About 9 months ago, Anil Kumble was appointed as the new coach of the Indian cricket team. Fast forward to today, India defeated Australia to finish an outstanding domestic season and was handed over the ICC mace for being the number one Test side in the world. Virat Kohli with 1252 runs at a batting average of 65.89 from 12 Tests led the charge from the front in this period. The Indian skipper had not scored a single double century in his career before the Indian team took flight for West Indies. By the end of this season, he had four of them to his name, was named BCCI’s player of the year and now, is being hailed as one of the best batsman as well as captain in the history of cricket. The Kumble-Kohli duo took a young-Indian side and transformed it into a dominating force.
However, while the media and fans were busy praising Virat Kohli, somehow Anil Kumble’s contribution didn’t get as much attention as it should have. While Kohli was busy smoking bowlers on the field, Kumble was busy making strategies and finding the best possible combination for his apprentice. A captain may be judged on the basis of wins or losses but as Harsha Bhogle said, ‘you judge coaches on whether players grew under them or not’. Anil Kumble ticked this box. A total of 25 players have been used by India since the Test series against West Indies.
Here is what Anil Kumble and Virat Kohli had to say about the Dharamshala win:
He has eventually built a squad that is a mix of youth and experience and there are two players for almost every spot. For example, India has the services of four world-class openers in KL Rahul, Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan, Gautam Gambhir and add to that the surprise call of Abhinav Mukund. Similarly, there are two very good wicketkeepers available in Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel. But, Kumble’s real magic can be seen in the bowling department. India suddenly has 6 to 7 match-winning spinners across all formats in R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Jayant Yadav, Amit Mishra, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Axar Patel etc. The fast bowling unit is deadlier than ever with Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar making the opposition dance to their tunes. In the shorter format, India has the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra and not to forget, Hardik Pandya who can clock 140 kmp/h.
Kumble has given debuts to youngsters like Rishabh Pant, Jayant Yadav, Karun Nair and Kuldeep Yadav who have turned out to be genuine match-winners. He has brought back experienced players like Yuvraj Singh and Parthiv Patel after years of gap and at the same time, has identified the exact roles for Kedar Jadhav, Manish Pandey etc. who have been performing in the domestic cricket for years now. Kumble dared to add a young Shreyas Iyer to the squad as a backup for an injured Virat Kohli and went into the Dharamshala match with five specialist bowlers despite knowing the shortage in the batting department.
Watch India’s winning moments from Dharamshala:
While talking to NDTV, former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar said, “The team is on the right track with Anil Kumble as the coach because Anil not only has a massive experience he was also an aggressive bowler. I think he had the temperament of a fast bowler and that aggression has been shown by the bowlers as well. To have Ishant (Sharma), to have Mohammad Shami who did not play is this game is a huge plus. You have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav doing the job, so in future, if you want to rotate these bowlers, to give them just a little bit of break, India has the pace bowling reserves as well. That really is good news particularly with India going to play overseas.”
Someone like Umesh Yadav who had struggled for his line ever since making his international debut has played 12 out of last 13 Tests for India and has looked a completely different bowler. Ravindra Jadeja too has transformed from a bits and pieces player to a genuine match-winner. Yes, to make his name count among the best coaches of all time, Kumble needs to prove himself overseas and probably, win a major ICC Trophy like Gary Kirsten but going by the team he has, it should not be tough. ‘Anil Kumble is the hero India deserves, and the one it needs right now. He is a silent guardian, a watchful protector. He is Indian cricket’s, Dark Knight!’