India thwart Australia in Kumble’s last Test

November 2nd, 2008 - 7:20 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 2 (IANS) India Skipper Anil Kumble’s retirement struck Feroz Shah Kotla like lightning when the third cricket Test against Australia was about to be recorded as a draw here Sunday.Around the time, as V. V. S. Laxman’s fifty went on the board, the announcement of Kumble’s retirement was also being flashed.

A decent Sunday crowd greeted Laxman’s match-saving knock while saw Kumble’s decision awe-struck. But soon, they realised that Kumble did them an honour by calling it a day at his most favourite venue and cheered him as he led the side for one last time on to the field.

Kumble opened the attack, his last ball in Test cricket was a full toss, and it was despatched to the straight boundary by Matthew Hayden.

The Australians tried to seize an outside chance of victory by putting some pressure on the Indian batsmen, but the solid middle order led by stylish Laxman (59 not out) dashed their hopes. Laxman remained unbeaten in the match as he was 200 not out in the first knock.

The Test will, however, will be remembered more as Kumble’s final international game, ending his 18-year-long illustrious career.

The giant screen at Kotla flashed the line: “Anil Kumble has decided to retire after this match”, taking the media and the cricketing fraternity by surprise.

Kumble, who has a terrific record at Kotla, showed guts when he came to bowl Saturday with ten stitches in his little finger of left-hand which was heavily bandaged. He picked up the three wickets in the first innings.

“It was a very tough decision. I had decided to retire after the end of the series but this injury forced me to call quits after this match. I know I cannot play in Nagpur because I am not 100 per cent fit and I have never done that in my career. Delhi has been special to me and it was ony fitting that I retire here” said Kumble, who has 619 Test wickets in 132 matches, most by any Indian and third in the all-time list.

Australia were 31 for no loss in their second innings after India declared at 208 for five. The visitors were left to score an improbable 244 in 15 overs, but after eight overs the captains decided to call it stumps.

India lead the four-Test series 1-0 and the final match will be at Nagpur Thursday.

India scored a huge 613 for 7 declared in the first innings, but never thought that they would have to struggle to save the Test on the last day. But their shoddy work in the field over the last two days got them into a hole.

First, India allowed Australia to crawl back into the match with their sloppy catching and then messed it up with an overcautious approach. To be fair to the batsmen, even the Australians were not willing to attack and their bowling was a bit negative at times.

After taking two early wickets Saturday, Australia grabbed two more — Gautam Gambhir (36) and Rahul Dravid (11) in the morning session to leave India reeling at 99 for four.

Dravid, who is going through the worst form in his career, became a Lee victim. A fast in swinging delivery kissed Dravid’s bat before crashing into stumps. Johnson them dismised Gambhir.

But in form Sachin Tendulkar (47) and Laxman came up with gritty knocks to save the day for the hosts. Tendulkar immediatley broke the shackles with a couple of fours.

Laxman and Tendulkar shared 52-run stand. And then an unfinished 63 runs partnership between Laxman and Sourav Ganguly (32) ended Australia’s hopes of having a crack at the Indian lower order in the second session.

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