| Anil Kumble with the MoM award on Monday
New Delhi: Anil Kumble has never returned from the Kotla empty-handed. Monday was no exception.
Decks were already cleared for a facile Indian win in the first Test for the IndianOil Cup against Pakistan. As an incentive, the Indian captain also bagged the Man of the Match award for his excellent bowling and astute leadership.
“Yes, I was sure of the win and had a sound sleep last (Sunday) night,” smiled Kumble, after India completed a six-wicket win in 32 minutes on Monday morning.
“Winning Man of the Match award came as a bonus. It is great to start on a winning note. Kotla has remained my happy hunting ground since the under-19 days,” said Kumble.
There was a goodly crowd in the morning to watch the Indians knock off the remaining 32 runs. They were visibly disappointed to see Sourav Ganguly getting out without adding a run to his overnight score of 48.
Barring Sourav’s dismissal, the rest of the proceedings went according to the script as Sachin Tendulkar (56 not out) and V.V.S. Laxman (6 not out) batted comfortably to see India through.
Sourav was India’s hero on Sunday but he didn’t bat with same precision when the match was reduced to a mere formality on Monday. He gifted his wicket to Shoaib Akhtar, pulling only to be caught at long leg by Sohail Tanveer.
Sachin, however, was not the one to be tempted. He chose his strokes according to the merit of the delivery and completed his 50 in 165 minutes with the help of eight boundaries.
The winning stroke also came from Sachin’s bat. The maestro cut the ball from Shoaib for a boundary to raise the winning total. He pumped his fist in the air and flashed a smile at Laxman. The two shook hands before the Pakistani fielders came up to congratulate them.
It wasn’t a surprise that later Kumble praised his batsmen for their ability to contribute in crunch time. “They batted well in pairs in both innings and it allowed the bowlers to strike back,” he said.
For Shoaib Malik, nothing went right in the first Test except winning the toss. While his most trusted lieutenants failed to deliver, he flopped with the bat too.
Barring Shoaib Akhtar and Misbah-ul Haq to a certain extent, there wasn’t anyone in the Pakistan team to take the fight to the rival camp.
In the end, the Rawalpindi Express looked a tragic hero. He bowled fiercely in the second innings to return a figure of four for 58, but it wasn’t enough to stop India from registering an easy triumph.
After Sachin hit the winning run, Shoaib congratulated him, wiped his face and slowly walked back. He didn’t even attend the presentation ceremony to receive the best bowler award from a television channel. Malik accepted it on his behalf.
Later, Malik said he was proud of his main bowler. “He bowled so well. Only if our batsmen could score 100 runs more.”