India’s fast bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has been a very consistent performer since his debut in December 2012, has been rewarded with the Polly Umrigar award for being the country’s best international cricketer.
This is a very big achievement for someone who was first labelled as a one-dimensional bowler, due to his lack of speed. In the last two years, Bhuvneshwar has made a huge name for himself, not just in Indian cricket, but at the international level. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is now of the most important members of the Indian cricket team, in all the three formats. His ability to swing the ball on any surface has been a big advantage for India. He is carrying on the rich tradition of Uttar Pradesh’s (UP) swing bowling which was started by Rudra Pratap Singh and then followed by Praveen Kumar.
While describing Bhuvneshwar Kumar, cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle used a new-term. He said, Bhuvneshwar is not a fast bowler, he is a new ball bowler. And, in all fairness, Harsha was absolutely correct. Bhuvneshwar Kumar is not really a fast bowler. His average speed is around 130km/h and he rarely crosses the 135 mark. In fact, Bhuvneshwar doesn’t even look like a fast bowler. He is skinny, very calm and always smiling. Bhuvneshwar never sledges. He only believes is doing his job, and that is to bowl as well as he can.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar enjoyed a terrific 2013-14 season. Bhuvneshwar took 22 wickets in seven Tests. He also grabbed 17 wickets from 22 ODIs, besides 7 wickets from an equal number of T20Is.
India’s captain MS Dhoni likes thing to be very simple and to the plan, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar is exactly his type of cricketer. Bhuvneshwar keeps things very simple in the middle. He doesn’t experiment too much and just sticks to his plans. His fully aware about his weaknesses and he has worked really hard on overcoming them with his skills. In his debut ODI match against Pakistan, Bhuvneshwar gave a brilliant display of swing bowling and bamboozled the Pakistani batsmen. After that performance, Bhuvneshwar became an overnight sensation in Indian cricket and people started comparing him with Praveen Kumar, who was India’s best swing bowler at that time. Many thought that he will not be able to stay for long due to his lack of speed, but Bhuvneshwar proved them wrong and performed wherever Team India played. When India toured England earlier this year, Bhuvneshwar was India’s best fast bowler on the tour. His performance at the Lord’s, where he took six wickets for 82 runs in the first innings and got himself on the honors board, was one of the highlights for Team India, on the tour.
Bhuvneshwar is also a very handy lower-order batsman. In the Test series against England, Bhuvneshwar scored 3 fifties and averaged over 27, which is not bad for a lower-order batsman, in the English conditions.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is only 42 ODIs and 11 Tests old, and he has already India’s most reliable fast-bowler, and also the leader of the attack. In the upcoming tour of Australia and then the all important World Cup 2015, Bhuvneshwar will surely a play big role for India and his performance, especially with the ball, will be very crucial.