The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sourav: Kumble was fantastic
- New captain draws all-round praise for opening day show
He moved the chess pieces around quite well and knew what he was doing… Some of his field placements were interesting LAWSON on KUMBLE

New Delhi: Despite losing the toss, overall, Thursday was an excellent first day for Anil Kumble as India’s Test captain. It’s no surprise, then, that there was much appreciation both from within and outside.

Besides making an impact as the man at the helm, Kumble returned the best figures — three for 38 — too.

“Oh, Kumble was fantastic… Even when he wasn’t captain, I always felt he was capable of being outstanding… He handled the fielding and bowling changes very well and, most important, made me bowl 12 overs!” is how India’s most successful Test captain, Sourav Ganguly, lauded Kumble.

That Sourav turned up to address the media after stumps caused quite a stir, but he insisted nothing should be read into his being the chosen one.

“Today it’s me, tomorrow it will be somebody else… I’m here only because the captain decided I should represent the team,” Sourav (who himself had a good day, getting the ball to swing) explained.

Getting back to Kumble, Pakistan coach Geoff Lawson also had nice words for his captaincy. “He moved the chess pieces around quite well and knew what he was doing… Some of his field placements were interesting,” Lawson told The Telegraph.

There was praise from former Pakistan captain Rameez Raja and one-time India opener Arun Lal as well. Both are doing television commentary.

“Kumble was very impressive… He had a plan (giving short spells to bowlers) and his body language was excellent… The team’s body language looked off in the last session, but that can happen,” Rameez said.

As for Lal, he felt Kumble’s use of Sourav had been “brilliant.”

“Normally, captains tend to start a fresh session with regular bowlers, but Kumble gave the ball to Sourav after lunch and he struck with his first delivery of that spell… It was smart and showed Kumble thinks and probably won’t be bound by conventional cricket…”

But, then, Kumble has never been one to fit a stereotype.

Footnote: Speedster Shoaib Akhtar, who was practising with teammates, was the first to congratulate Kumble when he came out of the dressing room and was heading for the toss.

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