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Kumble announces retirement

S. Ram Mahesh

- PHOTO: S. SUBRAMANIUM

LAST WALK: Amidst spontaneous ovation, Anil Kumble's 18-year-old journey concluded at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground in New Delhi on Sunday. The champion leg-spinner - the third highest wicket-taker in Test cricket with 619 scalps - retired from international cricket at the end of the drawn third Test between India and Australia. The 38-year-old Kumble bid farewell as India captain and cricketer at his favourite hunting ground.

New Delhi: Anil Kumble, one of India’s greatest Test cricketers and inarguably its most prolific match-winner, announced his retirement here at the Ferozeshah Kotla on Sunday.

The third Test against Australia, which ended in a draw, was Kumble’s 132nd and final game for India, capping a glittering 18-year career. The leg-spinner, who finished with 619 wickets, is one of only three bowlers to have taken more than 600 wickets in the history of Test cricket — Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, who with Kumble heralded a golden era of spin bowling, the others.

“It’s certainly tough making the decision to retire when you have played for 18 years,” said Kumble, addressing the media during an emotional press conference on Sunday evening.

“Delhi has been special for me as a player and for the team, but my body was telling me that it was time to go. It had been constantly asking questions of me, and although I tried taking pain killers and was managing to play, the injury I had on the third day helped me make my decision.”

Kumble hurt his left little finger on the third day and was administered 11 stitches. “Eventually it was an injury to the hand that told me it was time,” said the great man. “The stitches would have been out on November 8, which would have been the third day of the fourth Test, and I don’t want to go into the Test less than a 100 per cent fit. I didn’t want to hurt India’s chances, and I made the decision last night.”

The 38-year-old bowled one last time for India on Sunday evening before taking a lap of honour around the ground, propped up by his team-mates.

Ricky Ponting, the Australian captain, later called his counterpart one of the finest competitors he has played against.

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