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Graceful spinner who relished Indian pitches
Qaiser Mohammad Ali

New Delhi: Leg-spinner Anil Kumble, who retired from One-day International cricket Friday, is essentially a wicket-to-wicket bowler who could have been more effective had injuries not taken their toll on his shoulder.

Kumble's right shoulder has taken the brunt of bowling innumerable overs in a first-class career since 1989-90. In ODIs alone, he bowled 2,416 overs and another 60,917 balls in all first-class cricket.

A major scare came at the turn of the 21st century when a shoulder operation forced Kumble out of the game for 20 months. Many people wrote him off, but a resolute Kumble regained his place in the team and became as effective as he was before the injury.

Kumble, 36, announced his retirement in Bangalore from ODI cricket as India's most successful bowler with 337 wickets in 271 matches - assured of his place in the pantheon of Indian cricket. He also said that he would continue to play the longer version of the game. Read moreread more

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The Bangalore-based Kumble said that he would have retired from ODI irrespective of India's performance at the ongoing World Cup in the West Indies. India failed to reach the second round of the World Cup.

Kumble is also India's top wicket taker in Tests with 547 scalps in 113 matches.

He has also played for Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Surrey in county circuit and bowled his heart out. Kumble has taken a large number of his Test wickets on the helpful Indian pitches. But this cannot take away the sheen from the yeoman service that he has rendered Indian cricket.

The year 2003 was a lean one in Kumble's low profile but successful career. But in 2003-2004, on the tour of Australia in the absence of an injured Harbhajan Singh, he bowled with a lot of penetration and finished with 24 scalps - the most on either side - in just three Tests.

That series gave him a new lease of life, and he did not look back.

The start of Kumble's Test career was not all that promising, though. Following an ordinary debut against England in Manchester in 1990, he was dropped, which forced Kumble, a mechanical engineer, to seriously think about quitting the game for an alternate career.

Then, the 1992 Irani Trophy tie against Rest of India in New Delhi brought the decisive turning point in his career as he captured a 13-wicket haul against the hosts and was on a plane to South Africa for a historic Test tour a few days after that match.

Kumble performed well in South Africa and became a permanent fixture in the team.

Kumble became the world's ninth bowler, and second Indian after Kapil, to take 400 wickets. He is also the first Indian spinner - and the world's third after Sri Lankan Muttiah Muralitharan and Australian Shane Warne - to reach the 400-plus-wicket milestone.

Kumble is also the first Indian spinner to take 300 wickets, a milestone that he attained at his home ground, M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, in the third Test against England in 2002.

One highlight of Kumble's career is his world-record 10-wicket haul in Pakistan's second innings at New Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla on a foggy February afternoon in 1999 to spin India to a famous victory.

With that spell, Kumble became only the second bowler in the 130-year Test history to have captured all 10 scalps in an innings. The only other bowler to do so was England's Jim Laker, who performed the feat against Australia in Manchester in 1956.

In 1996, Kumble was chosen as the Wisden Cricketer of the Year, and in 2005, he was honoured with the Padma Shri. Hopefully, there would be many more awards waiting to be bestowed on him.

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