End of a successful partnership

21-06-2017
DH

Given the early success, Kumble-Kohli combine was expected to last at least till the 2019 World Cup but the association has terminated prematurely, lending credence to the reported rift between captain and coach. 

If the reason for Kumble’s exit is indeed Kohli’s reservations against him — the coach stated it to be so in his statement — then it’s a sad chapter in Indian cricket. Whether the powers that be were right in heeding Kohli’s demand is a topic for another discussion but the alliance between the best from the past and the present was good as long as it lasted.

While Kumble stepping down from his post wasn’t entirely unexpected given the ugly controversy -- some real and mostly manufactured -- that was played out in the media, he can walk away with his head held high. Given just a year’s contract, the former ace leggie enjoyed a fruitful spell with the national team that reached the zenith of success in Test cricket and made some impressive gains in the limited-overs matches.

During Kumble’s tenure, from last June, India conquered all comers both at home and away. They vanquished the West Indies in the Caribbean (2-0) and New Zealand (3-0), England (4-0), Bangladesh (1-0) and Australia (2-1) in home Test series en route to consolidating their No 1 position in the ICC Test rankings. They didn’t lose any of the ODI series, beating both New Zealand (3-2) and England (2-1) and taming the latter in the three-match T20I series (2-1). The rare 0-1 loss came against the West Indies in a rain-affected T20 series in the United States. India also reached the Champions Trophy final where they lost to Pakistan.

Kumble was also mainly responsible for breathing life back into Cheteshwar Pujara’s career that was at the crossroads. His inputs as a bowler were of immense help to spin duo of R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja who bagged a bucketful of wickets in Tests. He was hailed as a great strategist and his decision to include left-arm chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav in the final Test against Australia that proved to be a masterstroke was just one example of it.

With such an impressive resume in a short time, it was but natural for anyone to expect an extension of Kumble’s one-year contract which was to end at this month-end. But the fact that he has decided to withdraw as the coach despite the Cricket Advisory Committee -- comprising Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and V V S Laxman — recommending an extension indicates that he didn’t want to stay in a unit where he felt unwanted.

The tell-tale signs of Kumble’s exit were obvious during the course of the Champions Trophy. He largely stayed away from the glare of the media and didn’t attend a single press conference, a rare thing for the coach of the team in such a big tournament. While Kohli did deny any rift during his first press conference, in his subsequent media addresses never once did he acknowledge Kumble’s contribution in team’s success even as he mentioned the name of throw-down specialist Raghu. 

Kumble has never overstayed his welcome. He quit playing and his captaincy when most felt he could have carried on for another year. He did the same as an administrator and he was not going to stick on to a team whose leader didn’t trust him.

Kumble’s journey as coach

June 23, 2016: Takes over as Head Coach of the Indian team
July 24: Records his first Test victory as coach against the West Indies by an innings and 92 runs at North Sound. India won the series 2-0.
August 28: India go down 0-1 to West Indies in the two-match T20I series in the United States.
October 11: India whitewash New Zealand 3-0 in a three-match Test series at home.
October 16: Records his first ODI win as coach against New Zealand. India won by 6 wickets.
October 29: India secure a close 3-2 ODI series win against New Zealand. India won by a massive 190 runs in the last ODI.
December 20: India complete a 4-0 Test series win over England in Chennai.
January 22, 2017: India clinch the three-match ODI series 2-1 despite losing the third match to England by 5 runs. 
February 1: India win the three-match T20I series 2-1 against England.
February 13: India beat Bangladesh by 208 runs in a one-off Test match in Hyderabad.
March 28: India reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy after beating Australia 2-1 in the four-match Test series. India won the fourth Test, held at Dharamsala, by eight wickets.
May 25: BCCI invites application for the position of Head Coach for Indian Cricket Team. Kumble given direct entry for the process. 
June 18: India lose the Champions Trophy final against Pakistan by 180 runs at the Oval.
une 20: Steps down as the coach of the team.

Record as coach:
Tests: 17 matches
Won: 12 Lost: 1 Drawn: 4 
Win percentage: 70.59
ODIs: 13 matches 
Won: 8. Lost: 5 
Win percentage: 61.54 
T20Is: 5 matches 
Won: 2. Lost: 2. 
No result: 1. 
Win percentage: 40.00.

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