India's veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has named Anil Kumble as the country's "greatest match-winner." Kumble, who formed a lethal spin-bowling partnership with Harbhajan, remains India's highest wicket-taker in the longest format of the game (619 wickets in 132 matches).
Harbhajan said that he feels "lucky" to play with him for a large part of his career, adding that he was an "unbelievably committed player."
“In my view, Anil bhai was the greatest ever who played for India. He’s probably the greatest match-winner India has ever produced. People used to say he didn’t spin the ball, but he showed that if you had the heart, you could get batsmen out regardless of whether the ball spun or not. If anyone has half the competitiveness Anil bhai had, he would become a champion. I’m lucky to have played with him for so many years. He was an unbelievably committed player,” Harbhajan said in an interview with Sportstar.
Earlier, Gautam Gambhir had also said the same for Kumble. While wishing him on his birthday last year, Gambhir called Kumble "India's biggest match-winner."
Talking about his own beginnings in Test cricket, Harbhajan said that Sourav Ganguly's support was key to cementing the place in the side. Referencing to the 2001 series against Australia where Harbhajan took 32 wickets in three Tests, the bowler said that backing from coach and captain was essential to his performance. (ALSO READ: Don't think we can restart cricket right now, says Dravid)
“If Ganguly hadn’t supported me then, I may not have been able to take [more than] 400 Test wickets,” he said.
“If there are a few selectors who don’t want to pick you, you need backing from a strong player or a strong coach. I was lucky that at that time, they supported my talent. It’s God’s grace that I was able to win such a big series for my team."
The bowler took a hat-trick in the famous Kolkata Test of the same series in 2001, playing a key role in India's stunning victory over Australia. Harbhajan named the Eden Gardens as his favourite cricket venue.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing in Calcutta. Very special ground. I have an emotional touch with Eden Gardens. It didn’t matter whether I was in form; it mattered that I was going to Calcutta, and if I went there, I would be in form,” said the 39-year-old.