Thursday, Aug 11, 2022
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Gentleman Assassin

Anil Kumble's captaincy combines the steadiness of maturity and the brio of personal excellence

Gentleman Assassin Gentleman Assassin

Anil Radhakrishna Kumble's face says it all. It's a face that has seen stunning victories, astonishing comebacks. It's also a face ordinary Australians have come to know, admire and respect. Take what happened the day after the Indian team's table-turning, spectacular 72-run victory over Australia. Dressed in training gear and sweating profusely after a gruelling 45-minute cycling trip around Perth, Kumble walked into the team hotel— and straight into a wedding party. He was instantly recognised and, of course, the newlyweds wanted to have a photograph taken with him. Kumble agreed gamely. We won't know but years from now, the couple might point him out in the photo and tell their kids, "That's Kumble, he beat the invincible Aussies at the WACA, where no team had won in almost a decade."

Kumble can surely claim a fair share of the glory. The triumph was a tribute to his indomitable spirit; the historic win made many (some still grudgingly) attribute leadership qualities to a man often respected only for his dour resolve. It's possible the Indians could lose the Adelaide Test. But even as this report is being written, on the first day of the Test, it can be declared: Kumble is just the man the Indian team needed at the helm. The unassuming Bangalorean has reinvented himself—and with it remapped the heights this India XI can scale.

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