Undoubtedly the greatest spin duo India has ever had, Kumble-Harbhajan has scripted many wins for India during the 2000s and if there is one who would know Kumble better than most of the others then it has to be Harbhajan Singh.
Harbhajan feels that the Kumble-Virat duo will aim to take the Indian team to the next level in the coming months. He says Kumble would be Kohli’s ideal friend, philosopher, and guide.
“With no disrespect to anyone, Anil Kumble will forever remain India’s greatest ever match-winner in Test cricket. And he will bring that hunger to win in this team also. Virat will get to learn a lot from the man himself. Virat doesn’t believe in draws and neither did Anil bhai. He will be Virat’s ideal friend, philosopher, and guide,” Harbhajan told PTI during an interview.
Harbhajan who has grown immensely as a player under the guidance of Anil Kumble during his playing days, emphasizes what Kumble would bring to the team as a coach.
“Unbelievable work ethic and discipline. And top it all, his ability to devise strategies against opposition batsmen. Let me tell you, under Anil bhai, boys will learn the art of winning Test matches on the fourth and fifth day. He will change the misconception that Indian spinners need tailor-made wickets to win Tests at home.
“Tell me what’s the role of a coach? At this level, his role is to help the captain in devising strategy. In Mumbai Indians, he would speak to me and Lasith Malinga – as we were the leaders in the bowling department. We would tell what we are planning and he would give us his feedback. And when you got that feedback, you knew that he had done his homework,” said Harbhajan.
Harbhajan gives a classic example how Kumble helped him to tackle Matthew Hayden during the 2004-05 Australia tour to India. “During the 2001 series, Hayden got 549 runs. With his reach, he was even sweeping deliveries well outside the off-stump. During the 2004-05 series, even though we lost 1-2, we had sorted Hayden out as he got less than 250 runs [244 runs in 8 innings]. It was Anil bhai, who made me aware of the areas to bowl to Hayden. I got him out thrice, Anil bhai and Murali Kartik got him once for not many,” Harbhajan narrated.
The 35-year old describes Anil Kumble as a bowler ,despite not having a vicious google or an extraordinary turner of the ball, is a man with consistency.
“His above average intelligence. You can replace Dictionary’s Intelligence with Anil Kumble! His biggest asset as a bowler was an ability to land the ball on the seam. He could do it 95 out of 100 times. The moment SG Test lands on the seam, it kicks up. So even on barren pitches, Anil bhai would get the ball to kick up. I don’t think any Indian bowler has been as consistent about his length like him.”
Talking about how good a team player Kumble is, Bhajji said: “Often, there were times in overseas conditions, when a single spinner played and Anil bhai had to sit out because of team composition. I have never seen him get upset or lose his cool. His attitude in those time had been: If it benefits the team, he is game. That’s what is being a perfect team man.”