July 21, 2014

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has, until now, been the standout bowler for India in the ongoing 5-match Test series against England. There was a lot of pressure on Bhuvneshwar to deliver coming into this series, with the conditions expected to favour him the most out of all the Indian bowlers. With Zaheer Khan missing out on this series due to an injury, the onus was on him to stand up to be counted, and the Uttar Pradesh seamer has come to the fore in Zaheer’s absence.

The 24-year old’s efforts are even more praiseworthy when you consider the conditions that he has had to operate in. In Trent Bridge, he was the pick of the seamers, from both sides, on a surface that had absolutely no assistance for the bowlers, ending up with 5/82.

Steals the show at Lord’s:
He has now followed it up with figures of 23-9-46-4 on day 2 of the 2nd Test at Lord’s. He has even out-bowled his English counterparts, commendable when you consider that he is up against bowlers with more than 600 Test wickets between them in James Anderson and Stuart Broad.

England had a massive advantage having won the toss and chosen to bowl in the 2nd Test on a pitch almost as green as the rest of the outfield, and you would’ve expected the English quicks to run through the Indian batting line-up in encouraging conditions. But they bowled too wide of off stump and were consistently short, thereby allowing India to get away with a competitive total of 295 in the 1st innings.

By the time it was India’s turn to bowl on day 2, the pitch had eased out considerably and had a browner look to it than on day 1. Bhuvneshwar could have felt aggrieved at not having had the same help as the English seamers, but, instead, he just got on with his job and bowled beautifully throughout the day.

What works for Bhuvneshwar?
In the little international cricket that he has played, he has come across as a sharp thinker, who has the shrewdness to know exactly what is required on a particular surface. That was on show yesterday, as he, by making the batsmen play as much as possible, made sure that the mistakes of the opposition were not repeated.

On a pitch seemingly tailor-made for him, he could have become frustrated at his lack of wickets in his first 5 overs. Bhuvneshwar, though, stuck to his guns and consistently bowled a nagging line and length. He was duly rewarded when he had Alastair Cook caught behind at the start of his 5th over with a brilliant outswinger.

Sam Robson, Cook’s opening partner, was the next to follow: Bhuvneshwar tempted him with a full delivery outside off-stump, and the Australian-born opener obliged, nicking it to MS Dhoni. He finished day 2 with two more wickets under his belt: that of Ian Bell and Gary Ballance.

Kumar has had a crucial role in India being in the driver’s seat going into day 3 of the Test match, but Dhoni will have to be careful in handling his prime bowler. Considering the trouble he was causing the English batsmen, the captain’s tendency to keep going back to him was understandable, but the man from Meerut was starting to tire as the day progressed.

At one stage, Bhuvneshwar had bowled 17 overs from the 19 overs that were bowled from his end on either side of lunch, reflecting the over-reliance on him. Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami were nowhere near as effective, leaving the Indian captain with no choice but to go back to him.

Wasim Akram fears burnout:
Pakistan bowling legend Wasim Akram, while speaking to Star Sports after the end of play on day 2, noted Bhuvneshwar’s drop in pace to below 120 kmph in his last spell and said that Dhoni will have to use the bowler’s services judiciously, to get the best out of him for the rest of this Test series.

“If you give him these many overs on the trot] you will finish him off before the series ends. He already looks tired,” Akram said.

Kumar displays 100% commitment each and every time he steps out onto the field and will never shy away from taking the ball if his captain needs him to. Dhoni will have to be wary, though; if he gets bowled into the dust continuously, the 24-year-old might join the long list of Indian bowlers who disappear after a year or two of international cricket.

Courtesy: SPORTS KEEDA



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