The Indian Premier League (IPL) is the biggest annual event on the global cricket calendar. Started in 2008 with a lot of hope but cautious scepticism, having gone through many ebbs and flows, the league has emerged stronger each year to showcase the world’s best talents on a single stage. The league has established itself as one of the biggest platforms for youngsters to flaunt their skills – a celebration where cricket’s largest global community meet, compete, share and build bridges.
Marking the 12th anniversary of the decorated league, cricket.com celebrates and honours the legends of the IPL by inducting them to the 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' – stars who not only dazzled on the field of play but elevated the stature of the league to skyrocketing heights by their sheer presence. This year, cricket.com will induct 15 such legends. Our 10th "Cricket.com Hall of Fame" inductee is India’s most successful bowler Anil Kumble.
Teams: Royal Challengers Bangalore
Led and played in the IPL playoffs in two seasons (2009, 2010)
- Second-best economy rate (6.58), after Rashid Khan (6.55), among all IPL bowlers who’ve taken at least 25 wickets
- Best economy rate (5.9) in matches won in the IPL (minimum – 10 wickets)
- Only Shane Warne (57) has taken more wickets than Kumble (30) as captain in the IPL
- Best win percentage (57.6) among all captains of RCB in the IPL
What makes him HoF worthy: Champion bowler and inspired leadership
Statistically, Anil Kumble is India’s most successful bowler in international cricket. With 953 wickets at the highest level, Kumble is well ahead of the second-placed bowler on the list, Harbhajan Singh (807). In both Tests and ODIs, he is his country’s highest wicket-taker. He did not play any T20I as the format came into the spotlight when he was in the twilight of his international career.
If his performances in the IPL are anything to go by though, Kumble could have easily been a legend in T20 cricket at the international level too. With his subtle variations, he could have troubled even the finest of batsmen no end.
When the first IPL auction came around in 2008, Kumble was one of the top Indian names in the auction. Unsurprisingly, he was picked by his home team Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) for $500,000, which was exactly twice his base price.
The first season didn’t exactly go as planned for the legendary Indian leg-spinner. In what was a disastrous season for RCB, Kumble managed to take just seven wickets from 10 matches. An economy rate of 7.93 in T20 cricket seems reasonable, but it would be Kumble’s poorest in the three seasons of IPL that he would go onto play.
In 2009, things would change and how! Kumble, in November 2008, had retired from international cricket which meant that the only form of competitive cricket he was playing at the time was the IPL. There was a change at the helm of the RCB side as well, with England batsman Kevin Pietersen replacing Rahul Dravid as skipper.
With Pietersen not available for a good chunk of the season due to national commitments, it was initially announced that South Africa all-rounder Jacques Kallis would take over as captain after the first few games. That move was modified though. On the back of his astute captaincy of the Indian Test team a year earlier and some brilliant form with the ball at the start of IPL 2009, it was decided that Kumble would take over the reins once Pietersen returned back to England. And what an inspired call this proved to be!
In their first six matches in the second season of the IPL, RCB looked to be continuing their first season woes, winning just twice under Pietersen’s captaincy. In the England cricketer’s final game leading the team, RCB would defeat Kolkata Knight Riders – another side that was struggling at the time – in a thrilling contest. Yet, not many at the time could see the resurgence that would follow.
Kumble’s stint as RCB’s skipper began with two wins which were followed by two losses. At this time, RCB had won just four matches from 10. As a result, every game from thereon in was to be a must-win encounter for the Royal Challengers if they had to finished in the top four.
So, how did their last four results during the league stage go? Win. Win. Win. Win. Inspired by some excellent captaincy from Kumble, the team from Bengaluru had successfully turned the tables.
Coming into the knockout stage with momentum on their side, RCB defeated Chennai Super Kings to book a place in the final. A team that was ridiculed after the first season and had just two wins from their first six matches in the second were in the final - what a change Kumble had brought about!
RCB would lose in the final, though, to Deccan Chargers – who, interestingly, were the only team to finish below the Bengaluru-based franchise in IPL 2008. Despite the defeat, Kumble once again stood tall.
As a captain, his decision to bowl the first over to Adam Gilchrist, who had blown away table-toppers Delhi Daredevils in the semi-finals, turned out to be a fruitful one. Gilchrist was dismissed for a duck after just three deliveries and Kumble would later take three more wickets. It’s not often that a player from the losing team is given the Player of the Match award, but here, there was no choice but to give it to the masterly leg-spinner.
Speaking of Kumble’s bowling, after a subpar first season, he took 21 wickets at an economy rate of under six in 2009. In 2010, he was again impressive with the ball, taking 17 wickets while conceding 6.42 runs per over. He was not just a wicket-taker but also flourished when it came to putting the brakes on the opposition’s scoring. What more can you ask from a T20 bowler?
A champion bowler and a captain who led RCB to a second-place and a third-place finish in the IPL, Kumble might have played in India’s top T20 franchise league for only three seasons, but the impact he made in that short time was immense.
NOTE: The 'Cricket.com IPL Hall of Fame' only considers players who have retired from the IPL and last played in or before the 2018 season.