Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave a new blood to his roller costar career. During the ongoing four-match Test series in West Indies, the 26-year-old medium pacer has produced an outstanding spell to leave the West Indies dressing room in tatters.
India, in a four-match series in the Caribbean, has won the first Test at Vivian Richards Stadium, the second Test of the series was drawn by the West Indies. Roston Chase scored a hundred and captain Jason Holder scored fifty to restrict India from extending the lead of series 2-0. The pair of Chase and Holder got a reasonable help from Jermaine Blackwood who also scored a fifty.
India from a position of winning the match, ended up with a frustrating draw as Indian bowlers were made toothless for more than two seasons of the fifth day of the Jamaica Test.
The drawn match didn’t go well with Indian captain Virat Kohli as after winning the first Test match he declared that his team would whitewash West Indies, but the dream was spoiled by West Indies lower order batsmen and Indian bowlers’ inability.
So, Virat with a hunger in the belly to win the next two match drop three players-batsman Cheteshwar Pujara, spinner Amit Mishra, fast bowler Umesh Yadav- from the playing XI. The changes worked well for Virat Kohli as India won the third Test by massive 237 runs.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s comeback
Among the three costly changes, Virat’s decision to give young and improved Bhuvneshwar Kumar a chance to prove which worked wonders. Otherwise, his decision to swap Cheteshwar Pujara with Rohit Sharma and Amit Mishra with Ravindra Jadeja didn’t work well.
India batting first scored 353 thanks to Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha’s hundred. Virat might have endured criticism if a Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t rise like a phoenix. West Indies started the third day with 202 for 4 were at a good position. The Indian captain was visibly frustrated as the breakthrough was not coming.
Virat introduced Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the 90th over of West Indies’ innings. From there India didn’t have to look back as the comeback bowler wrecked havoc in the West Indies batting line-up. Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s newly found form bowled out West Indies for 225. The Uttar Pradesh bowler notched up his third Test career five wickets haul. India got a 128 run lead.
Indeed, a great turnaround for India.
Captain Kohli was a relieved man. But a day of the match was washed away due to torrential rain. In the second innings, India declared scoring 217 runs and gave a lead of 345. West Indies had only two seasons in hand on the final day of the match. Mohammad Shami, Ishant Sharma, and Ravindra Jadeja bowled out West Indies for 108 runs, India won the match by 237 runs and series by a 2-0 margin, with the final Test in Port of Spain remaining.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar ended with match figures of six wickets . It was a perfect comeback for a bowler who was foreseen as an answer to the India’s bowling woe.
In 2012 a 22-year-old scrawny Bhuvneshwar Kumar said a roaring hello to the international cricket. He bowled Nasir Jamshed of Pakistan in the very first delivery of his ODI debut , bowled Mohammad Hafiz in his first delivery of T20I debut. In Test debut in 2013, he had played an integral part to whitewash Australia in the home series.
In 2014 India’s forgettable tour of England, he has taken 19 wickets at an average of 26.63 average. It was an achievement for an Indian bowler. But during the 2014-2015 India’s tour of Australia Bhuvneshwar Kumar received an injury that curtailed his momentum.
Lean patch of Kumar
Since then Bhuvneshwar Kumar was overlooked for Test cricket. Though he was considered for limited over cricket main team in the 2015 World Cup, the Meerut bowler played only on the match against UAE.
During India tour of Bangladesh and home ODI series against South Africa, Bhuvneshwar Kumar failed to make an impression. He gained speed, but line and length were missing from his bowling. He was brutally beaten by the South African and Bangladesh batsmen.
IPL hard work paid off!
During the WT20 in India Kumar was not considered for the main team. But this determined bloke regained his form in 2016 IPL. He ended the season as the height wicket taker with 23 wickets in 17 matches.
His medium pace with vicious swing helped Sunrisers Hyderabad to lift the IPL trophy.
His performance helped him to gain back the place in Test cricket, and in the very first match, he left a mark.
BCCI should nourish fitness of the Meerut bowler
Now the 26-year-old bowler considered for the two-match T20I series against West Indies which will be played on 27 and 28 August. But the right arm bowler will be tested during India’s home series against New Zealand and England in two back to back series.
It is expected that the rejuvenated Kumar, an improvised version of another Kumar (Praveen), will be key to India’s success against New Zealand and England, who have one of the best batting sides in contemporary cricket.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has all the ingredients of Pakistani bowlers at their best, need to be nourished by BCCI fitness trainer and head coach Anil Kumble, who is himself a great bowler and understands the psychology of bowlers better than anyone.
Kumar with Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami may make a lethal bowling combination for India.
However, the longevity of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in international cricket will depend on his fitness.