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Jumbo treat awaits Bangalore fans
Harish Kotian in Bangalore | December 07, 2007 17:38 IST
Anil Kumble [Images] will add another glorious chapter to his illustrious career when he walks out for the toss in the third Test against Pakistan in Bangalore on Saturday.
As he revealed on Friday, "It's very special coming to Bangalore. I've always enjoyed playing here. I think I've spent the last 20-25 years of my life on this ground than at home, so it's very special.
"To go out there tomorrow morning for the toss it will be pretty emotional in front of my home crowd. It will be a very special moment," said Kumble, in his customary composed style.
He will also become the first Bangalorean to lead the Indian Test team at the M Chinnaswamy stadium.
Kumble has achieved almost everything in his career, spanning nearly 17 years, and it was only fitting that he was handed India's Test captaincy. Even though it came so late, the 37-year-old has quietly gone about the job like he does when he is handed the ball.
The veteran leg-spinner's record on home turf is as impressive as it is on most Indian grounds. In Bangalore he has taken 35 wickets in seven matches, though in the last Test against Pakistan at the venue, in 2004-05, he could pick just one from the two innings for figures of 0 for 159 and 1 for 88.
He will no doubt be keen to lead from the front and make a mark in what could be his final appearance on home ground.
India have not beaten Pakistan in a Test series at home for nearly 28 years, the last triumph coming in 1979-80, and Kumble said the team's focus to sign off with a victory.
"The onus will be on us to ensure that we get a series victory and try and go 2-0 up," he said.
But the task won't be easy for the champion spinner, what with has all his top bowlers not in the team because of injuries. Batting stars Sachin Tendulkar [Images] and Mahendra Singh Dhoni [Images] are also doubtful starters because of injuries, thus adding to Kumble's worries.
However, the Indian captain is hoping that the youngsters can make the opportunity count.
"It is a relatively inexperienced pace attack. I'm always someone who looks at it in a positive way. It's a great opportunity for the youngsters to ensure that they do well and seal a place for themselves; it's an opportunity for them. Having said that Irfan [Pathan] has done well at Test level, VRV [Singh] has played Test cricket and so has Ishant [Sharma]. I'm sure they will all look at it as an opportunity," he said.
Bangalore had to wait for nearly four years after his Test debut to see the bespectacled leggie dish out his bag of tricks, against Sri Lanka [Images] in January 1994. His finest performance at Bangalore was against New Zealand [Images] in October 1995, when he took nine wickets (4 for 39 and 5 for 81) to lead India to an eight-wicket victory.
Already, in his two-match career as captain, he has impressed with clarity of thinking and a positive approach to the game. He hasn't run away from any issues and been quite specific in his approach to the media.
The way he backed VVS Laxman at the start of the series showed how important he considers the senior player's contribution even though calls for Yuvraj Singh's [Images] inclusion had reached a crescendo.
Similarly, Harbhajan Singh [Images] seems quite at ease when playing under a fellow-spinner for the very fact he understands his bowling more than anyone else.
Rahul Dravid's [Images] sudden resignation may have prompted the appointment of Kumble as captain, but, looking back, it is one of the best things to happen to Indian cricket.
Mental toughness, dedication and determination are the qualities that best describe Kumble. The team is showing those traits too of late. Weather permitting, Bangalore fans are in for a 'Jumbo' treat over the next few days.