[email protected]: When Kumble played through pain

If asked to name one modern-day cricketer to have ever donned the Indian cricket team uniform with pride, unmistakably the first name will be that of Anil Kumble.

Kumble bowled his heart out on seamer-friendly tracks outside the subcontinent and never gave up until he got what the team wanted of him.

But an exemplary exhibition of his large heart was made on in the fourth Test against the West Indies at the Antigua Recreation Ground in 2002.

Kumble had been hit on the jaw by a Mervyn Dillon short-pitched delivery while batting in the first innings of the match.

India had put on a mammoth 513 for 9 declared.

Kumble fought off acute pain owing to a fractured jaw to bowl 14 overs unchanged the next day.

His 14-over spell was a successful one as he picked the prized wicket of Brian Lara and nearly dismissed Windies skipper Carl Hooper to end the day with figures of 14-5-29-1.

He had trapped Lara leg before, but Hooper was let off the hook as the catch taken at forward short leg was off a no-ball.

Kumble was ruled out of the rest of the tour but bowled his heart out with a strapped jaw.

‘I knew I had to go back home because of this injury. I wanted to go home with the thought I tried my best, Kumble had said.

It was Kumble’s comeback Test in that series after he was dropped from the second and third Tests.

Talking about playing with pain, Kumble had said: ‘For the first couple of overs, it was okay so I continued. If it was really bad, I would have come off.’

‘There was not much pain when I was bowling. At the end of it though it was paining, I was beginning to cramp up. Maybe, because of lack of nutrition; maybe the adrenaline was pumping up too much.’

Recalling how things rolled on the day, then physio Andrew Leipus had told the media: ‘It was his decision; we never pushed him. We just told him if it was painful, he must come back. He must not hang around.

‘When he saw Sachin [Tendulkar] turn the ball, he decided to go in. He saw that wicket had some turn and he was going to give his best. After his jaw was strapped, Anil rehearsed a few times in the dressing room. Then he jumped around a bit and went on to the field.

‘The instruction was also clear. Kumble should not open his mouth, even for a leg-before shout.’

Kumble’s heroics saw the likes of Sunil Gavaskar search for parallels and could only recall the instance of Vijay Manjrekar coming out to bat with his broken arm strapped, in an effort to help Chandu Borde get to his hundred in a Test match.

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