Thursday, October 14, 2004

SE7EN: *ing Anil Kumble

It's always quite strange seeing Anil Kumble picking up so many wickets. Yeah, I know it was the Chepauk, it was where Kumble and many others (Harbhajan, Hirwani, et al) have picked sackfuls of wickets in the past. But then, when it's the Australians at the opposing end, you always tend to feel that they would have worked out some way of avoiding eventualities like these.
And that is after taking into account the fact that they just can't play spin.
The argument, of course, can't explain why Harbhajan picked 32 the last time the two sides played in India. Except probably that he was brand new at the time and therefore an unknown of sorts.
But Kumble's show today is especially intriguing because the Aussies, and the English to a lesser extent (and obviously with considerably inferior ability and locus standi), have tried their darnedest down the years to humiliate the man. "Play him like a medium pacer", they went to town saying.
And it worked bloody well. Newcomers — usually Kumble's bunnies — didn't get out to him as often as they used to. It was just all in the mind. An average bowler in any case (yes, despite his 400-odd), Kumble was reduced to a Gavin Larsen-like wicket-to-wicket bowler. Nothing more, nothing less.
What changed it, to my mind, is the spell he bowled in Melbourne earlier this year, picking six. What else, tell me, explains his figures in the final Test in Sydney? There, Kumble picked eight and four! And strangely — because the Australians usually don't get too psyched by stuff like this — they appear to have carried the Melbourne-Sydney memories with them here.
That's probably what earned him his seven wickets here.
And I maintain that Kumble is not, repeat not, a good bowler.