Anil Kumble is an influential character. He assumed charge as India’s Head Coach on June 23, 2016 and took the Indian team to the West Indies in second week of July 2016 for a 4-match test series. The veteran leggie’s first assignment as coach began with a bang. India defeated the West Indies in Antigua’s first test by an innings and 92 runs. That match was highlighted by India skipper Kohli’s maiden double century and Ravichandran Ashwin’s second innings figures of 7/83, which were the best for an Indian bowler in the Caribbean. In the second test at Jamaica, India could have scored another win but rain and Roston Chase prevented that. The third test in St. Lucia was also affected by rain but India still managed to beat the home side by 237 runs. The4th test at Port of Spain was also washed out except for the first two hours on first day. The ongoing series against New Zealand is Kumble’s second as India’s coach and India have already won the series under him. The latest victory was recorded in the iconic Eden Gardens’ 250th test match, where India beat New Zealand by 178 runs after their 197 run triumph over the visitors in Kanpur’s first test. With just the Indore test remaining in India-New Zealand test-series, Kumble has made a dream beginning with four test victories out of six matches. In addition, he has ensured India reaching the top of the ICC test reckoning.
The bespectacled cricket genius from Bengaluru is in a class of his own. Even in the midst of his glittering cricket career, Anil Kumble had prompted the Bengaluru Municipal Corporation bosses to name an important city landmark after him. Anil Kumble Chowk is located in the famous business district of Bengaluru in honor of a man, who took all ten wickets of the Pakistan innings in the second test at Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground on February 7, 1999. India had lost the Chennai’s first test of the two-test series and looked in trouble before Kumble came up with his magical spell and restored parity with that feat as the series ended 1-1. When Jumbo retired, he had 619 test wickets against his name, the highest by an Indian bowler. However, success didn’t go to Kumble’s head and he remained a gentleman all his life. He is carrying these qualities even now and Team India is an obvious beneficiary.
India won the Kolkata test and the series against New Zealand but it didn’t look like that way on the first day morning. Matt Henry and Trent Boult created heavy problems for the Indian top order by generating a lively pace that had the batmen chasing the outgoing balls. While Shikhar Dhawan was clean bowled in the second over in trying to cut Henry, Murali Vijay and Virat Kohli fell by getting outer edges to away-going balls. At 46/3 in the 22nd over, the India batting was in a mess. But Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane dug India out of trouble with a 141-run fourth-wicket stand. Later, Wriddhiman Saha and Ravichandran Ashwin also played sensible knocks. Aided by small contributions from Ravindra Jadeja and Mohammed Shami, India ended their first innings at 318.
India came back in the match with a great show by Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammed Shami, who wrecked the New Zealand first innings to take a 112-run first innings lead and consolidated it to 375 with the second innings score of 263 all out. The victory target of 376 in the fourth innings was a bit too difficult for the visitors. The draw was the best option for them. However despite the good beginning, New Zealand batsmen couldn’t contain themselves as Ashwin, Shami and Jadeja each took three wickets to bowl them out for 197 on the fourth day. India won the match by 178 runs and with that, took an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-test series. The last test starts in Indore on 8th October but India’s victory took them to the top of ICC test ranking ahead of Pakistan. It was a phenomenal performance by India whether one wants to give the credit to the head coach or not. Kumble is a revered figure and his no-nonsense attitude rubs on people around him. Many people can argue that cricket matches revolve around team performance but when a team has someone like Kumble at the helm, players go out of the way to pay heed to what the coach says. Kumble brought Gautam Gambhir for the Kolkata test but the opener couldn’t get his chance. Now with Shikhar Dhawan flopping in both innings, Gambhir could replace him at Indore. Kumble also insisted on replacing Umesh Yadav with Bhuvi Kumar and the bowler made the decisive difference in the first innings. The Indian team definitely looks different under the legendary leg spinner and the bonhomie has returned to the dressing room. It is no mean feat because closed-door mind-set makes things vastly different. If not for anything, Kumble must be given credit for such change.