Generally in cricket, if you're the fielder who has dropped a catch, especially an important one, you are destined to invite the utter wrath of the frustrated bowler, who will not shy away from a few choice words and make you feel miserable for the next 15 minutes, at least.
But has it ever happened, that you have dropped an important catch...a catch of the last batsman which would seal a test match victory for your side, and the bowler runs to you and scolds you...not for dropping the catch, but for even attempting to take that one?!
Yes, it has happened, perhaps only once in test cricket.
It happened at Delhi's famous Ferozshah Kotla ground, the battleground for the second test match between India and Pakistan, on Feb. 8, 1999. An all-important second test match, which could tilt the series in the favor of the winner.
It was the fifth and final day of the test match. Pakistan had lost nine wickets in the second innings, and were staring at defeat.
Indian ace bowler Javagal Srinath, who was in fine form leading up to the test match, was for some reason bowling all over the place. As if just going through the motions, disinterested in snapping a wicket.
But somehow, quite hilariously, a batsman managed to get bat to the ball, and it was launched high up in the sky.
A fielder in that region set his eyes firmly on the cricket ball. Heart beating fast, wary to even blink an eye so as not to miss the ball in that crucial moment, focused.
But somehow he managed to drop the catch.
Javagal Srinath was visibly disappointed. His eyes said it, his face showed it. He was upset, big time.
But he wasn't upset over the fact that the fielder had missed the catch. He was upset that he attempted to take it.
Why did you run towards the cricket ball? Why did you attempt to take it?
Well, some guy named Anil Kumble was bowling at the other end. He had taken all the 10 wickets in the first innings, and had dismissed all the nine Pakistan batsmen in the second innings as well.
He was standing on the doorsteps of etching his name in history. Only the great Jim Lakers had managed to take all 20 wickets in a single test match. And Anil Kumble had the opportunity to repeat that magical feat once again that day.
Javagal Srinath was not just a teammate of Kumble, but also a good friend. No wonder then, he didn't want to do anything that could steal that honor from his pal!
What happened? Well, as they say... the rest is history.
Anil Kumble kept bowling well, kept troubling the last pair of batsmen, kept giving everyone many "Ooh-Aah" moments.
And finally, destiny bestowed upon him that honor. Anil Kumble took that last wicket, and the entire stadium erupted in joy.
Teammates and opponents alike, experts and fans, friends and family. Everyone knew how difficult it was to achieve such a feat in cricket.
But if there was ever a man to repeat this historic feat, it had to be the patient, talented, hard-working, mechanical engineer turned cricketer—Anil Kumble.
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