What’s the story?
Sunrisers Hyderabad head coach Tom Moody was full of praise for Bhuvneshwar Kumar after the 27-year-old put in yet another brilliant performance on Sunday against the high-flying Kolkata Knight Riders side to help the side maintain their spot in the Top 4 of the 2017 IPL points table.
Leading the race for the Purple Cap with 20 wickets to his name, Bhuvneshwar has been the go-to bowler for David Warner in the powerplay as well as at the death – something which has impressed Moody very much.
“He’s (Bhuvneshwar) got great strike-ability at the top with the new ball because he swings it both ways and he’s developed wonderful skills on how to close the innings. Those type of bowlers are few and far between,” Moody said. “His economy in the last four overs (of the innings) is in the mid 7s which is something remarkable.”
Praising the ability of Bhuvneshwar as well as Mumbai Indians youngster Jasprit Bumrah to bowl yorkers consistently in the slog overs, Moody said that the duo’s improvement over the past couple of seasons showed the importance of practising hard.
“It (yorker) is the hardest ball to bowl but also the most effective one. That skill comes with practice. Bhuvi’s increased his pace as well over the last two years and that has helped him be effective with the new ball as well as the end of the innings,” he added.
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Sunrisers Hyderabad, the reigning IPL champions, have had to make some adjustments to their bowling department with the likes of IPL 2016 Emerging Player of the Season Mustafizur Rahman leaving to join up with the Bangladesh national squad and Ashish Nehra not playing as much as the side would like him to.
The consistent performances from Bhuvneshwar have however helped the side overcome those limitations with his wicket-taking skills as well as the ability to contain the opposition, especially during the death overs.
In nine matches so far, Bhuvi has claimed 20 wickets at an average of 20.97, conceding just 7.01 runs an over. Along with skipper Warner, who has led from the front with 459 runs, Bhuvneshwar has been the standout performer for the Hyderabad-based franchise and it is little surprise that Moody is over the moon with his pace spearhead.
The heart of the matter
While Bhuvneshwar possessed a natural ability to swing the ball both ways, there was a time when he seemed to lose it in his effort to generate more pace. However, with his performances in IPL 2017, the Meerut-born cricketer has well and truly proved that those days are well and truly behind him.
Talking to the press ahead of Tuesday’s fixture against a struggling Delhi Daredevils side who have lost five matches on the trot, Moody expressed his delight at the hard work put in by the young bowler to improve on his natural abilities and the Australian believes that the reward is there for everyone to see.
The 51-year-old also touched on the performances of Shikhar Dhawan and Yuvraj Singh as well as Afghanistan’s Rashid Khan, who has handled the spin duties for Sunrisers quite efficiently. Talking about the Indian duo’s performances, Moody feels that they have been helped by the fact that they have the backing of the team management which has not necessarily been the case when it came to the national side.
With Kings XI Punjab’s decimation of Delhi Daredevils on Sunday followed by Rising Pune Supergiant’s thrilling victory over Gujarat Lions on Monday, thanks to a brilliant hundred by Ben Stokes, Sunrisers Hyderabad cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal and Moody will be hoping that Bhuvneshwar carries forward his good run of form throughout the IPL campaign.
From a personal point of view, Bhuvi will be looking to extend the gap to his nearest competitor for the Purple Cap – South Africa’s Imran Tahir, who reached 16 wickets for the season after picking up three wickets against Gujarat Lions.
By picking up at least 18 wickets in each of his last four IPL campaigns (including this one), Bhuvneshwar has been a consistent match-winner for Sunrisers Hyderabad and only seems to be getting better with every passing edition of the IPL. As Moody said in his press conference, he has been able to add pace to his bowling, enhancing his abilities as a swing bowler.
It is always handy when a bowler can bowl equally well during the powerplay overs as well as the slog overs but that is exactly what Bhuvneshwar has been doing on a consistent basis. At 27, the Uttar Pradesh bowler has his prime years ahead of him – a sign that bodes well for Sunrisers Hyderabad as well as Team India.