When you think of Anil Kumble, you associate him with many bowling accolades. He has the most five-wicket hauls for India, he is only the second player in the world to pick up a 10-wicket haul in an innings and many would remember him bowling despite the fact that he broke his jaw in West Indies. But Anil Kumble did something with the bat that no Indian achieved on one historic tour in England – score a century. He achieved that feat on this day in 2007.
India were in excellent form leading up to the match. India toured Ireland, Scotland before they landed up in England. They eased past Ireland in the one-off ODI. The then followed it up with a 3-0 whitewash of South Africa – all in Belfast. However, the biggest match of the tour was going to be against Pakistan at Glasgow, which unfortunately got abandoned without a single ball being bowled.
India now had to change their attention towards England – first in a 3-match Test series, followed by a 7-match ODI series. But first, India played a couple of warm-up matches. Their first game was against Sussex and then against England Lions. Both ended in draws, but India got a good workout.
The first Test at Lord’s turned out to be a close contest as India managed to hold on to a draw. India had lost 9 wickets for 263, needing to bat out 5 more overs to secure a draw. MS Dhoni and RP Singh managed to bat out the rest of the overs. The 4-match series was level at 0-0. The second match saw India go 1-0 up, thanks to their 7-wicket win at Trent Bridge. India was set a 73-run target, which they achieved easily. Zaheer Khan with 9 wickets took home the man of the match award. This is the Test where Kevin Pietersen had allegedly thrown jelly bean on to the pitch when Zaheer came into bat as the England cricketer believed that Zaheer used jelly beans to shine the ball to generate swing.
Everybody in the Indian batting line-up got off to starts. Dinesh Karthik and MS Dhoni scored 91 and 92 respectively. Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman too scored useful fifties. Kumble walked in at No. 8 after Tendulkar scored 82 with the score at 417. England would have wanted to wrap up the innings within 450. Kumble showed good form with the bat even in the previous Test but failed to score big despite getting a start. Knowing the competitive spirit in Kumble, he would have wanted to make this innings count.
He had nothing to lose as India already had a good score. All he had to do was to give Dhoni as much of the strike and not throw his wicket away. Dhoni, when Kumble made his way to the crease, was batting on 26 of 37. Kumble took very little time to settle in. he was driving, pulling and also cutting the ball with ease. That allowed Dhoni to play his natural game. Dhoni took a special liking to Monty Panesar and then Kevin Pietersen. However, Pietersen had the final laugh as he holed out in the deep for a well made 92 of 81. The duo had added 91 for the seventh wicket in quick time. Time to declare? Not yet.
With Dravid deciding to play on, it was evident that India wanted to bat only once in this match. Kumble and Zaheer continued to frustrate the bowlers. They were blocking well and getting ones and twos as well. Kumble, however, punished the loose deliveries. Kumble got to his fifth fifty off 109 deliveries. India went into tea on day Two at 559-7. Kumble unbeaten on 60 off 120. India dominated all the sessions in the match thus far.
England struck a couple of overs after tea after Panesar got rid of Zaheer for 11, breaking the 62-run stand. RP Singh too was soon dismissed for 11, caught and bowled by James Anderson. Sreesanth was in at No. 11 for India. Kumble was unbeaten on 76. Sreesanth was not known for his batting skills. He was not someone who would hang around. He played his natural game and the risks paid off. Kumble brought up the 600 for India with a six off Panesar. The intention was clear. India were going to attack from both ends.
Kumble was now into his 80s and was staring at a chance to get his maiden Test ton. He has gotten into the 80s twice in his career, but this was perhaps his best chance of doing something nobody managed to do in this tour – score a century. Sreesanth on the other end started scoring with ease. He smashed Anderson for three continuous fours. In the 162nd over, Kumble went inside out off Panesar, scored a boundary and moved into the 90s for the very first time in his career.
Kumble took most of the strike. He took the responsibility of being the senior partner. When he was batting on 93, Pietersen came on to bowl. Kumble swiftly moved to 97 when he cut s short ball from the off-spinner through covers.
Two deliveries later, Anil Kumble got to his maiden Test ton of his career. His first Test ton, exactly 17 years after making his debut and he did that in the most dramatic fashion as well. Seeing Kumble charging down the track, Pietersen bowled it a little fuller outside off. Kumble just about managed to get an inside edge on to it, which took the ball past the wicketkeeper. And he was ecstatic. The entire dressing room was on their feet applauding a wonderful knock by a veteran. Many times, the crowd would have applauded Kumble for a wonderful spell, but this time, it was for his achievement with the bat. India was eventually bowled out for 664, with Kumble remaining unbeaten on 110.
Watch Kumble’s innings here:
Match and Series?
The match ended in a draw and India won the series 1-0. Dravid lifted the trophy for the first time since 1986 in England. Their first Test series win in England in 21 years.
India and England played a 7-match ODI series as well. India was 3-1 down in the series but levelled it at 3-3 to force the series into a decider. However, England won the final ODI and India went down 3-4. The results on this tour would have given them a huge boost after India’s disappointing exit in the ICC World Cup 2007, which lead to the resignation of the head coach Greg Chappell, after a lot of controversies.
Kumble played a little over a year and then retired from Test cricket in the middle of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in 2008. Dhoni took over as captain in all formats after that.
Kumble also took over as India head coach in 2016, which saw them dominate test cricket with series wins against Australia, New Zealand, Bangladesh, England and West Indies. His rift with skipper Virat Kohli saw him part ways with just one year at the helm.
India 664 (Kumble 110*, MS Dhoni 92; James Anderson 4-182, Monty Panesar 2-159) & 180-6 (Sourav Ganguly 57, VVS Laxman 46*; Paul Collingwood 2-24, James Anderson 2-34) drew with England 345 (Ian Bell 63, Paul Collingwoood 62; Zaheer Khan 3-32, Anil Kumble 3-34) & 369-6 (Kevin Pietersen 101, Ian Bell 67; S Sreesanth 3-53, Anil Kumble 2-123)
Player of the match: Anil Kumble
Player of the series: Zaheer Khan (India), James Anderson (England)