The elevation of Anil Kumble, right, to captain has been
a popular choice with players [GALLO/GETTY]
 
India's dramatic victory over Australia in the third test was a major triumph for their quietly spoken captain Anil Kumble.

The 37-year-old is in the twilight of his career but is playing some of the best cricket of his life at an age where many of his contemporaries have hung up their bat.

During the match, he joined Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne as the only bowlers to take more than 600 test wickets and enhanced his reputation as a leader.

Despite having been in the national side for 18 years, Kumble was only handed the captaincy two months ago but has already proved an instant hit.

He led his team to a series win over Pakistan and emerged with a reputation of a statesman after the bitter ending to the Sydney test.

He let his feelings known about the on-field behaviour of Australia's players when he said only one team had played the match in the right spirit, evoking memories of Bill Woodfull's comment to the English during the 'Bodyline' series.

There were fears the rest of the tour might even be cancelled but Kumble played a leading role in brokering a peace deal.

Learning experience

He held a frank face-to-face meeting with Australia skipper Ricky Ponting to resolve any differences and persuaded his team mates to forget about the dispute and focus on playing.

"I have definitely learnt that in all this, it's important to just be calm and ensure you take the right decisions," he said.

"Ultimately the game is bigger than anyone else and if you base your decisions on the game then you'll never go wrong."

The pressure of captaining India has sometimes been a burden that some of the country's top players have struggled to cope with but Kumble said he was relishing the role after his unexpected promotion.

"It's been really special," he said.

"Having the challenge of beating Pakistan at home, which had not happened for about 25 years, and then coming on this challenging tour of Australia and all that has happened in the past couple of weeks.

"I've really enjoyed it and I've had some tremendous support from all the team."

Kumble's success as a captain is the icing on the cake of a glorious career that has seen him achieve some remarkable feats after shoulder injuries had briefly stalled his career when he was younger.

Along with England's Jim Laker, Kumble is one of only two bowlers to have taken 10 wickets in a test innings, which he achieved against Pakistan in 1998/99 and scored his maiden test century against England last year.

Source: Agencies