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Sourav Ganguly (left) and Anil Kumble Getty Images (File Photo)

Not only had Sourav Ganguly played an influential role as skipper of the Indian cricket team, but also in the career Anil Kumble. Before the 2003-04 tour of Australia the Indian selectors had been having a debate on whether to include Kumble following his ordinary form. After much deliberation they had decided not to go ahead with Kumble. At this juncture Ganguly went into the selection meeting and convinced the selectors hard to include Kumble for the tour, citing that he was indeed a match-winner and deserved a spot in the side. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Sri Lanka 2017-18, 3rd Test at Delhi

On Kumble s inclusion during 2002-03 Australia tour

I will give you the example of Anil Kumble, who was probably the biggest match-winner India has ever produced in the last 20-25 years. I remember attending a selection meeting before the tour of Australia in 2003. I was the captain of the side and I knew, selectors were not very keen on having Anil in that tour. As I entered the selection meeting, I could sense the selectors had made up their mind to leave Anil Kumble out. I kept on requesting and insisting that he is such a match winner, he is done so much good for Indian cricket. He must be in Australia and the selectors just didn t agree, said Ganguly during an event in Mumbai.

The selectors wanted to pick a left-hand spinner because Australians don t play left-hand spin well, and this went on for a good couple of hours. It was getting late and John Wright came up to me and said Sourav, let s finish this and go with what they said and I am sure we will do well . Sourav Ganguly backs pay hike for Indian cricketers

On how Kumble was picked

I told John that Kumble has been a champion for last 10 years, he is on his way down at the moment, may be because he hasn t bowled well, but I actually feel it is a temporary thing. I told John if you leave Anil, he may not play for India again. I said I am not going to sign the selection sheet till Anil is in the side. The selectors got fed up with me and said if I don t play well, if the team does not play well and if Kumble does not play well, I will the first person to go before anyone goes. I said fine, I am ready to take that risk and we will see what happens.

Anil had an outstanding series, an outstanding year as well. He went on to pick 80 wickets that year, which was the most by any spinner in a calendar year in history of Test cricket.