Calcutta, March 20: If Sourav Ganguly turns to someone in times of distress, it has to be Anil Kumble.
The Bangalore-based leg-spinner has rarely let down the trust placed on him, and at Eden Gardens today, it came as no surprise when he led the demolition of Pakistan with a seven-wicket haul.
He has seen the bad and the good times and has not let success affect him. Whether at home or in an away series, Kumble has been at it always. Cynics will say he is not the traditional leggie but India's most successful bowler has learnt to overcome such constraints.
What makes him a matchwinner' 'He's been doing a wonderful job consistently.' There are many things which one struggles to explain.' Kumble's performance is one such thing,' says Bhagwat Chadrasekhar.
Erapalli Prasanna is more forthcoming. 'Kumble's asset is his line and length. His career basically depends on these qualities. It hardly matters if he is a real spinner. In terms of effectiveness, he reigns supreme.'
Tough challenges have always inspired Kumble to bring out the best in him. Be it the 10-wicket innings haul against Pakistan at the Kotla in 1999, or the series Down Under, or last year's tour of Pakistan when he grabbed 15 wickets in three Tests, Kumble has always delivered.
'His tremendous control always gives him the extra advantage,' says Chandrasekhar. 'His dedication is an education for youngsters. He never lacks in fitness and is always eager to learn.'
Having already grabbed 16 wickets in Mohali and Calcutta, he has his eyes set on another superb effort in his home town during the third Test. 'I hope to continue in the same vein in the next two innings, ' Kumble said.
But how does he explain today's success' 'When two spinners bowl from both ends and on a fifth-day wicket, there's very little breather for the batsmen. We just had to keep the pressure on from both ends. That made the difference.'