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Force 10

Anil Kumble joins the immortals.

Force 10
Force 10

February 7, 1999
Pakistan's tour to India 1998-99 was momentous; it was the first time in nine years that the two sides were clashing in a Test match.The on-field action matched the off field hype: India lost the first Test, an edge of-the seat thriller at Chennai, by 12 runs, despite a heroic 136 by Sachin Tendullkar.

The next Test was at Delhi's Feroz Shah Kotla, a venue renowned for producing dustbowls. India won a crucial toss but managed just 252, which was still enough to win them a first innings lead of 80 as Pakistan crumbled to 172. Anil Kumble provided a sign of what would follow later, ripping through the middle order to finish with 4 for 75. Ultimately India left their opponents the onerous task of scoring 420 to win on a wicket that was getting increasingly uneven in bounce.

The openers, Saeed Anwar and Shahid Afridi, put together 101 before Kumble started the slide. He had bowled five innocuous overs before lunch, but a change of ends after the break made all the difference. Kumble homed in on the rough areas on a good length with unerring accuracy, and soon Pakistan's batsmen were floundering. Afridi was first to depart, nicking one to the keeper, and the next ball, a yorker fired on middle-and-off, found Ejaz Ahmed in front. Inzamam-ul-Haq prevented the hat-trick, but didn't last long, inside edging onto his stumps. Anwar stood firm making 69, but a vicious lifter had him gloving to short leg; Pakistan had now lost six wickets for 27 runs - and all to one bowler.

Salim Malik and Wasim Akram resisted briefly, but Kumble was not to be denied. He got through Malik's defences, and then dismissed Mushtaq and Saqlain off the last two balls of his 26th over. Kumble now had nine in the bag, and was once more on a hat-trick. Javagal Srinath deliberately bowled wide of the stumps to allow Kumble a chance to take all 10.

Before the start of Kumble's next over, Tendulkar ran up to him, took his pullover, and handed it to umpire AV Jayaprakash. The Indians believed it had brought Kumble luck - he had taken at least one wicket in each over that Tendulkar had performed the ritual. It worked this time too. Akram survived two balls, then was caught by VVS Laxman. Feroz Shah Kotla erupted with joy- Kumble had joined Jim Laker as the only bowlers in Test history to achieve the perfect 10. His figures 26.3-9-74-10.

Wisden recognized the enormity of his achievement by ranking it second in the list of all-time bowling displays. It was a performance which has guaranteed him immortality.

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