RP Singh, Sudeep Tyagi, Praveen Kumar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar. What’s the common thread running through them? They are medium-pacers. All three are from Uttar Pradesh. And they are natural in-swing bowlers.
These are early days for Bhuvneshwar. He is only 23, but already marked as India’s new-ball heir apparent to Zaheer Khan.
Given the short tenure of his predecessors, Praveen and RP, one is wary of saying too much too soon. It is prudent to attach the ‘handle with care’ tag to him in order to ensure his longevity.
But at this point, he enjoys his captain’s faith and that is what matters. A day before the fourth ODI between India and England in Mohali, MS Dhoni gave a thumbs-up to India’s new wiry seamer.
Considering Bhuvneshwar’s effectiveness with the new ball, Dhoni has, at times, used up his 10 overs at a stretch.
“Certainly, he can’t always bowl his full quota of overs with the new ball,” Dhoni told DNA on Tuesday. “Right now, he is really bowling well but the more he plays, the better he will bowl in different situations, sometimes in the middle of the innings or in the death overs. He needs to constantly keep working on his game.”
So how is Bhuvneshwar different from Praveen, part of the team not too long ago. “His (Bhuvneshwar’s) in-swinger,” said Dhoni, “comes right from right outside the off-stump which is the most important thing for any swing bowler. But that’s also because he is bowling more often with the new ball.”
The captain was bang on. Bhuvneshwar hasn’t quite been tested with the old ball. Against England in Rajkot he bowled at the death, conceding 26 in his last two overs.
“You can’t keep bowling with the new ball all the time. It’s important to effectively use the old ball as well and be prepared to bowl in the slog overs. And then his batting will also be tested in the long run,” Dhoni said, referring to the all-rounder’s slot which is still open in the absence of a real contender.
UP selector Obaid Kamal feels Bhuvneshwar is bound to improve, for he is sincere and eager to learn. “He is sharp and shrewd. He needs to just focus on his game and work on his action,” Kamal told this paper.
Recalling an incident when he was coaching the UP team about five years back, Kamal said, “It was a 10-day camp. For the first nine days, Bhuvneshwar didn’t ask me a single question. I was a bit surprised because I was watching this young man and was really impressed. On the last day, he asked me about bowling the in-cutter. I showed him the right grip and action. He immediately picked it up and bowled the next two deliveries spot on,” said Kamal.
“Believe me,” he elaborated, “an in-cutter is the most difficult delivery for any pacer, but he learned it so fast. That’s why I say, he is smart and shrewd. If used well, he can go beyond RP and Praveen. With proper exposure, he may even score a Test hundred.”