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His ten wickets in an innings against Pakistan

The phrase ``he single-handedly bowled his side to victory’’ is generally one that is blown out of proportion but there is no such exaggeration while describing a feat performed at the Ferozshah Kotla grounds in New Delhi on February 7 1999 – a day Kumble will remember for as long as he lives.

After all, he performed a feat accomplished only once before in 122 years of Test cricket involving nearly 1450 matches. The legendary England off spinner Jim Laker had taken all ten wickets against Australia at Old Trafford in 1956.

Now Kumble joined him at the top with a similarly astounding performance. Pakistan were left a victory target of 420 and openers Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi put on 101 runs. Kumble had so far bowled eight overs conceding 37 runs. Off the second ball of the ninth over he had Afridi caught behind by Nayan Mongia.

With his next delivery, he had Ijaz Ahmed leg before. Inzamam-ul-Haq averted the hat trick but played on off an inside edge in Kumble’s eleventh over. Two balls later Yousuf Youhana pushing forward was leg before.

Off the first ball of his 15th over, Moin Khan was caught low down in the slips by Sourav Ganguly and off the third ball of the 16th over Anwar was caught bat-pad by VVS Laxman at short leg. Pakistan had slumped to 128 for six and Kumble had taken six for 15 off 44 balls. Read moreread more

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By now, the result of the match was a foregone conclusion but the suspense among the joyous crowd was killing. Could Kumble take all then? That was the thought uppermost in everyone’s mind. And did it strike the bowler too? As he recalled later ``yes, this was the moment when I thought all ten could be mine.’’

But, in the meantime, he had to wait a considerable time for wicket No 7 as Salim Malik and Wasim Akram got entrenched in a seventh wicket partnership that realised 58 runs. Then Kumble resumed `Operation Demolition.’ Malik trying to pull was bowled off the first ball of the 24th over.

Off the fifth ball of the 26th over, Mushtaq Ahmed was caught by Rahul Dravid at gully off an awkward bounce. The next ball hit Saqlain Mushtaq on the toe and he was given out leg before. Now only one wicket stood between Kumble and history and the Indian captain Mohammad Azharuddin privately instructed Javagal Srinath to bowl a wayward line in his next over.

``Bowl anywhere but on the stumps’’ was Azhar’s friendly suggestion. The pace bowler faithfully sprayed the ball all over the place. Kumble began his 27th over with the crowd already delirious with excitement. Akram averted the hat trick and played out the next delivery but off the third ball he top edged the bowler to be caught by Laxman at short leg. Kumble’s dream figures of 26.3-9-74-10 were complete and he had bowled India to a series levelling 212-run victory.

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