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Last Updated:  Sunday, 23 March, 2003, 13:37 GMT
Kumble on the sidelines
By Saj Chowdhury

As Australia hammered the ball to all parts of the ground in the World Cup final, one distinguished Indian player could do no more than cast a rueful eye on proceedings.

One-day: 241 matches
Wickets: 308
Average: 29.63
Best figures: 6-12 v West
Indies 1994
Economy: 4.24
Test: 76 matches
Wickets: 349
Average: 27.98
Best figures: 10-74 v Pakistan 1998
Economy: 2.46

It must have pained Anil Kumble to watch as his teammates toiled in vain to stem the flow of runs.

The 32-year-old was consigned to the role of bit-part player as India moved impressively towards the final.

Hardly the way a bowler with more than 300 wickets in one-day internationals to his credit would have wanted to bow out in what will probably be his last World Cup.

Kumble played in only three matches, despite starting the tournament with figures of
4-32 against Holland.

He was frozen out as India, inspired by impressive bowling from their three seamers, chose to rely on Harbhajan Singh as their sole specialist spinner and play seven batsmen.

But Australian legend Ian Chappell questioned why Kumble was not in the side for the final, and many Indians fans must have agreed with him as they watched their team being taken apart.

Kumble will be 36 when the next World Cup comes around in 2007 and his chances of going to the West Indies do not look good, because of a nagging shoulder problem.

Of course, 37-year-old Sri Lankan Aravinda de Silva proved that age matters little, if you still have the ability and hunger.

Ian Chappell
India have been predictable almost to the point of being paranoid with their selection
Ian Chappell, before the final

But with India focusing on nurturing youth for the future, Kumble's love affair with the premier tournament may have come to an end.

He made his World Cup debut in 1996, six years on from his one-day debut.

He marked the occasion by taking 15 wickets, although the disappointment of his team failing miserably at the semi-final stage took some gloss off his efforts.

Four years later, Kumble grabbed a modest eight wickets as India capitulated at the Super Six stage.

His preparations for the 2003 tournament were not ideal - he missed a home series against West Indies late last year and he then opted to miss the Tests on a tour to New Zealand for personal reasons.

Matches: 17
Wickets: 28
Average: 23.92
Best figures: 4-32

Many have blamed India's packed fixture schedule as the chief reason why many of their players picking up niggling injuries.

Harbhajan also suffered shoulder problems against the West Indies, necessitating an MRI scan, but he recovered in time to become a permanent fixture in South Africa.

Kumble, however, was deemed surplus to requirements in the latter stages after failing to take a wicket against arch-rivals Pakistan.

And like India's World Cup campaign, his one-day career seems to be coming to an end with a whimper rather than a bang.

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