New Delhi: Fast bowling isn’t always about speed. At times it is also about using your brains and that is exactly what Bhuvneshwar Kumar proved on Tuesday during India’s first T20 match against Pakistan in Bangalore.
The way he set up Nasir Jamshed and Umar Akmal is the stuff fast bowlers’ dreams are made of. On his international debut, he first bowled four out-swingers — in-swingers to the left-handed Jamshed — before getting the last ball of the over to come back in and shatter Jamshed’s off and middle stump.
Coming back in his next over, he did the same with Akmal. Having set him up with four out-swingers, he got the last ball to swing in from just back of a length and sent Akmal’s middle stump for a walk.
Although the hosts lost the match, he was the silver lining for Team India as he finished with magnificent figures of three for nine from four overs.
Speaking to MAIL TODAY, Suresh Raina — skipper of Bhuvneshwar in the UP team — said that he wasn’t too surprised with the lanky pacer’s performance and expected him to only get better with time.
“Having led him in the domestic circuit, I can vouch for the fact that he is a terrific bowler. He has done really well for us (UP) in the Ranji Trophy and has even shouldered the responsibility of a lead bowler in the absence of Praveen Kumar and RP Singh."
“Yesterday (Tuesday) wasn’t the first time that I saw him bowl so well and his performance in the Ranji Trophy this season – 27 wickets in 6 matches – speaks volumes about his temperament and quality. Honestly, I expect him to only get better from here,” said Raina who was part of the team that lost to Pakistan on Tuesday.
Raina feels that while his bowling hogged the limelight in an otherwise dismal show by the hosts, Bhuvneshwar has more to him than just his bowling abilities.
“He is a bright prospect and should be a key member of the team in times to come. He is not just a good bowler but can also wield the willow. He is an all-rounder and the best part about him is his attitude. He is a disciplined guy and is always eager to learn,” said Raina.
The admiration seems to be mutual as Bhuvneshwar feels that having Raina as the captain of the UP side has really helped him grow as a cricketer.
“Raina bhai has been a very involved captain and the way he has egged all of us on is one of the reasons why we have all done well so far this season in the Ranji Trophy. He might be standing in the slips, but he will run up to you every time he feels that something needs to be told to the bowler or he feels there is something that we as bowlers could do better."
“Those little tips of his have been very useful and I have tried to integrate them in my bowling. Fast bowling, at times, is also about luck. There are days when you get wickets on loose balls and there are days when you don’t have wickets to show for your effort. That is where he ( Raina) comes in as a captain who would motivate the bowlers,” he told MAIL TODAY.
UP coach Venkatesh Prasad feels that it is Bhuvneshwar’s hardwork and smartness that has got him the rewards, be it for UP or in Tuesday’s game against Pakistan.
“He is very smart. He knows what line and length to bowl and adapts quickly. One doesn’t need to tell him too much. Not only is he aware of his responsibilities, but he is also quick to put plans into action,” said Prasad.
“The only thing that I have had to tell him is not to lose hope when the wickets column doesn’t reflect how well he has bowled.”
The former India pacer also feels that Bhuvneshwar isn’t all about bowling and has more aspects to his game. “Bhuvneshwar might have won a lot of admiration with his bowling, but he is a really handy batsman too. You can actually call him an all-rounder. Also, he is a very agile fielder and has a strong throwing arm from the deep,” he said.
While Bhuvneshwar has won hearts with his thinking bowling in the first T20 against Pakistan, Prasad feels that the UP pacer is more suited to bowling in the longer format of the game.
“He did exceptionally well on Tuesday and I am really happy for him. But if you ask me, I think he is an even better Test bowler,” the 43-year-old said.