He is widely regarded as amongst the greatest spinners in cricket history. A fierce competitor who never gave an inch on the field and a thorough gentleman off it, he is the third highest wicket-taker in international cricket only after Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne.
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Anil Kumble is India’s greatest match-winner in Test cricket (R Ashwin may soon surpass him but that is a separate story). He is also the country’s highest wicket-taker in both Tests and ODI cricket. Kumble was the reason that India was unbeatable and exceptionally dominant at home in the 1990s. As he turns 50 today, we look back at 10 standout numbers which define his career.
619: Number of Wickets in Test cricket
Kumble picked 619 wickets in 132 Tests at an average of 29.65. He has 35 five-wicket in an innings and 8 ten-wicket hauls in a match in his career.
Only Muralitharan (800) and Warne (708) have more wickets in Test cricket.
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334: Number of Wickets in ODI cricket
Kumble picked 334 ODI wickets in 269 matches at an economy rate of just 4.29.
7: According to Impact Index, one of the most holistic and comprehensive stats systems in the world, as on November, 2016, Kumble was the 7th highest impact bowler in the history of Test cricket after Muralitharan, Dennis Lillee, Malcolm Marshall, Shane Warne, Richard Hadlee and Dale Steyn.
8: Number of Series-Defining Performances with the Ball in Test cricket
Kumble produced 8 series-defining performances with the ball in Test cricket. A series-defining performance is a high impact performance in the match which had ultimately decided the result of a series or two high impact performances in a victorious series.
Kumble also got a series-defining performance for his all-round performance. This means, overall, he has 9 such performances in Test history. Only Muralitharan has more – 10. This is how great the Indian leg spinner was!
163: Number of Test Wickets at Home in the 1990s
Kumble picked 163 wickets in just 29 Tests in India at a stunning average of 21.35 in the 1990s. Courtesy his phenomenal success at home, he was the most impactful bowler in the world in the entire 1990s decade – he left behind greats like Craig McDermott, Warne, Wasim Akram and Muralitharan who followed him. The main reason for Kumble’s splendid record in the decade were his 6 series-defining performances. India did not lose a single Test series at home in the 1990s and were ruthlessly dominant – the opposition destroyer-in-chief more often than not was Kumble.
21: Number of Wickets for Kumble in the 1993 England Home-Sweep
Kumble was the highest wicket-taker with 21 wickets at 19.8 apiece as India brown-washed England 3-0 in a historic sweep at home in 1993. It marked the beginning of India’s dominance at home in the 1990s.
10-74: Kumble’s World Record Bowling Figures against Pakistan in Delhi
Kumble picked all 10 Pakistani wickets to fall in the second innings of the second Test in Delhi in 1999. India won the Test and levelled the series 1-1. Only one other bowler – Jim Laker – has achieved the feat of picking 10 wickets in an innings – against Australia in Manchester in 1956.
4.29: Kumble’s Economy Rate in ODI cricket
Kumble’s accuracy and disciplined bowling were his greatest assets in ODI cricket. Not surprising then that he has the 4th highest economy rate (min. 100 wickets) for India in ODIs of 4.29, after Kapil Dev, Ravi Shastri and Manoj Prabhakar. But when we adjust the standard of the times, it is Kumble who turns out to be the second-most restrictive bowler in India’s ODI history only after Kapil Dev. The average economy rate during Kumble’s ODI career was 4.59, thus he was conceding 0.3 runs per over less than the norm. Shastri’s economy rate was a little higher than the average of his times while Prabhakar was at par with the average.
6-12: Second-Best Bowling Figures by an Indian in ODI cricket
Kumble ran through the West Indian middle and lower-order in the final of the Hero Cup at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 1993 returning with 6-12 in 6.1 overs. West Indies, chasing 226, were skittled for 123. These remained the best bowling figures by an Indian in ODI cricket for a little over 20 years till Stuart Binny bettered them against Bangladesh in Dhaka in 2014.
110*: Kumble’s Only Hundred in Test cricket
Kumble scored an unbeaten 110 in the first innings against England at The Oval in 2007 – it was his only hundred in Test cricket!