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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Anil Kumble brings up his first, only and treasured test ton

England's Monty Panesar congratulates India's Anil Kumble on his maiden test century
England's Monty Panesar congratulates India's Anil Kumble on his maiden test century
©Reuters

August 10, 2007 - Kumble's tally of 619 test wickets from 132 matches, the third-highest in the history of the game, is a stat that most passionate cricket lovers know. However, ask Kumble and you would know that he is more proud of his one and only test century that came as late as in his 117th test match.

 

Kumble, on his day, was a watchable batsman and had his technique in order. He could also play some shots once in a while, not least the cut of the backfoot against balls outside his off stump and has 7 First-Class centuries to his name.

However, despite trying hard, the leg spinner had failed to convert his previous 5 test half-centuries into triple figures and that was something he was really keen to achieve. The moment arrived on the India tour of England in 2007.

It was a strange series in which almost every Indian batsman was among the runs but there hadn't been any century by an Indian batsman till the second test which India won by 7 wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

All they had to do in the final test at the Kennington Oval was to draw, or better still, win it to pocket a historic series victory against England in England.

It was also emphasized in the team meeting before the third test that at least one of the Indian batsmen should go big if he gets a start. Little did anyone know that it would turn out to be Kumble.

 

 

In a recent chat with spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, Kumble had this to say about his achievement: "The hundred certainly was very special. Because I tried it...tried, tried, tried from the first game, and I got in right in the 117th. So it was probably guesswork for me as well. Guessing what the bowler would do, and then I got all the guesswork right in the 117th Test match."

India were already headed towards a massive total when Anil Kumble joined MS Dhoni at the crease with the score reading 417/6. Dinesh Karthik, opening the batting for India, had struck 91 while there were half-centuries from Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman.

Dhoni was on song and was going hammer and tongs when Kumble arrived at the crease. Understandably, the leg spinner took a back seat. Gradually, Kumble also grew into his work and began to open up, driving Monty Panesar through covers.

He cut Chris Tremlett twice for boundaries behind point and came down the wicket to Panesar, lofting him inside out through covers. He was then joined by Zaheer Khan as the duo had a vital 50+ partnership.

After RP Singh was dismissed for 11, S Sreesanth, not known for his batting skills, came out to partner Kumble as the last wicket. This was when Kumble became a bit more aggressive. With a drive off Monty Panesar and a cut through covers off Pietersen, Kumble was soon on 97.

On the next ball, he went for the mighty heave-ho but could only get a bottom edge which evaded England wicketkeeper Matt Prior and raced to the boundary. Kumble was greatly relieved when he turned his head to find that he had survived the stumping and raised his bat in a jiffy.

Finally, at 36 years and 297 days, Kumble had brought up a test ton. This was also a record as Jumbo became the oldest Indian to score a century in Test cricket.

As for the result of the match, England somehow managed to hold on after India did not enforce the follow-on and the match was drawn, with India winning the 3-match test series 1-0.

 

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