Anil Kumble: When The Braveheart Bowls With A Broken Jaw

This is not a story… It is a part of History without myth. Because all parts of history have never been sculptured well to signify someone’s spirit. Every sport has its own history but the sports persons make an attributable contribution. And they are called legends.

India is a country mad for Cricket and it’s half of the population worships the cricketers as Gods. Indian cricket has seen many star players who clamped to acquire the knowledge of such a western game and the foremost thing which works on the field is ‘spirit’.

It was India’s tour of the West Indies. After showing brilliancy in batting on the dead pitch of Antigua, Indians were hoping for a cracking finish and captain Sourav Ganguly sent All-rounder Anil Kumble up the batting order, ahead of the Wicket-keeper batsman, Ajay Ratra.

It was going all good on the ground but West-Indies cricket’s tradition played its role again. Kumble was welcomed to crease with a couple of bouncers but a short-pitch delivery of Mervyn Dillon forced Kumble to take his eyes off the ball. As Kumble had no time to judge, the ball stuck him under his left jaw and everything turned black for the 6-feet-tall Indian allrounder.

Blood was gushing out of his mouth but Kumble stood on the pitch spitting blood. Without wasting time he put his helmet on and faced some more deliveries from Dillon. But the enormous-looking Dillon wasn’t in a charitable mood. He delivered a few more short balls and it was the end of Kumble’s innings. India were 257 for 6. It was the end of the third day of the tie and India were at 1-1 position in the series.

Everyone in the stadium and watching Kumble on television thought Kumble and India both are out of the park. Immediately, he was hospitalised and went for an X-Ray later in the day which revealed that the lower part of the jaw was entirely broken. He was advised to fly to India for surgery. But Kumble was adamant over his decision to play the match as India was facing a bowler short in the team. The next day India followed its same batting order and ended the inning.

West Indies were finally put in to bat. Without Kumble on the field, India forced Tendulkar to fight lone on the dead pitch. But there was some juice in the wicket for spinners on that day.

Most of the Men in Blue had tested the Carribian pitch with the ball but suddenly Kumble shocked everyone present on the ground. The leg-spinner, inspired by the turn afforded by the wicket, got team physio Andrew Leipus to swathe his face with bandages and turned up to do duty for India.

“This one takes the cake,” remarked Leipus who had seen players take the field with injuries before, but never as serious as the one sustained by Kumble. “I only made one request to him: do not appeal.”

But asking Kumble not to appeal is one thing and making him stop is quite another. Despite being in obvious pain, Kumbale kept appealing.

With a strapped face, Kumble bowled his first over writhing in pain every time his front foot landed on the bowling crease. His mates could clearly feel his agony.

Umpire David Shepherd placed an arm around Kumble at the end of his first over, wondering whether the bowler wanted to carry on and offering words of encouragement at the same time. Leipus kept circling the boundary fence checking on Kumble and at the end of the over, the physio would once again tighten the bandage.

It was another legend, Brain Lara was on the crease. Ganguly took Tendulkar off the other end and brought on a pacer from the other end. Kumble kept this spell and here the mystery worked. Lara looked a little shaken after seeing Kumble bowling in such a condition and Kumble got his just reward in his fourth over. Lara got LBW by Kumble’s spin.

By this point, Kumble’s face was swelling up a bit but the Lara wicket only served to inspire him even more.

Hooper and Sarwan then survived some searching overs from the leg-spinner as the runs dried up. The West Indies ended the day at 187/3, having scored 99 runs in the extended third session that saw 39 overs being bowled. Kumble finished with figures of 1/29 at an economy rate of 2.07. Kumble then flew back to Bengaluru for surgery the following day as the five-match Test series was leveled at 1-1.

When Kumble was later asked why he decided to come back onto the field, he simply said: “I didn’t want to sit around.”

When a cricket lover watches this match again and again it only scripts the level of inspiration, dedication, and spirit of hard work. Not only Anil Kumble there are many Sportster paved their way by clicking just on a button that is dedication, which turns them into living God for their lovers.

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