RAMYA KRISHNAMURTHY writes from Bangalore: The rest of the country might see this as Kannadiga overkill of what is actually a very Indian achievement down under. And a very Indian achievement it truly is. But the real man of the Perth match in my book is Anil Kumble, not Irfan Pathan.
Yes, the Baroda all-rounder took a few wickets and scored a few runs in a comeback match, but so did R.P. Singh and Ishant Sharma; so did Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and V.V.S. Laxman, and to an extent Mahendra Singh Dhoni. In an evenly balanced match, there were very few standout performance really, on both sides.
But some times, the efforts of the real Man of the Match candidate defies quantification. He may not have scored a ton of runs, bagged a slew of wickets, or cupped a lot of catches, yet he could have played a huge role in the way the match went.
Which is where my candidate comes in: Anil Radhakrishna Kumble.
Here’s a team which nobody wanted to lead. Here’s a team which nobody wanted to coach. Here’s a team which nobody gave a hope in hell down under. Here’s a team which lost the first Test miserably in Melbourne. Here’s a team which went through fire in the second Test in Sydney. Here’s a team which could have gone to pieces.
And yet here we are in Perth—together, united, proud, victorious, and heads high.
We could say it was a real team effort: veteran batsmen chipping in at various stages, rookie bowlers clicking at the right stages, an inspired captaincy input from Virender Sehwag, etc. And sure enough it was a team effort, everybody doing his bit. Still, the cementing factor in all this is the silent steel of Anil Kumble.
He showed a defiant but dignified face to the world, but he deserves no small credit for holding the team together, for uniting the team in its beliefs and core strengths, for never losing sight of the big picture in an ocean of pumped-up patriotism, and for showing the team where the real battle must be fought.
And as if all that weren’t enough, he climbed Mount 600 just when it seemed all downhill.
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News