Apart from the ordinary outing against Delhi Daredevils, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not had an economy rate that exceeded six runs an over in a single match in IPL 2014 © PTI
By R Vishal
Armed with more than a year of international cricket under his belt, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has often been criticised for a poor second spell. Seldom undoing the solid base that he builds for the team, the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 has witnessed the medium-pacer stepping away from the unwanted tag.
Bhuvaneshwar’s reliable displays for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 7 so far have usurped even the illustrious Dale Steyn’s. Defending a modest 134, the 24-year old’s wily in-swingers and impeccable line had batsmen in a tangle. Not only did Bhuvneshwar start the damage with the crucial wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in the third ball of the innings against Rajasthan Royals, but came back even better to clean up the lower-middle order.
Things were not rosy in the beginning though. Bhuvneshwar’s start to the tournament saw the recurring theme on display yet again. Giving away a measly 12 runs in the first three overs, a stage was set for Hyderabad to start off with a win. Rajasthan Royals needed eight from the last over and Bhuvnewshwar was taken apart for consecutive boundaries by James Faulkner to seal the tie.
That last over proved to be a decisive moment that has seen a quantum leap in Bhuvneshwar’s performances, in the back end of the innings. With Glenn Maxwell’s blitzkrieg 95 putting Punjab on course to a 200+ score, Bhuvaneshwar came back with a superb second spell. His wonderfully crafted slower deliveries deceived Punjab’s lower-order hitters and restricted Punjab to 193. He finished with remarkable figures of three for 19 in his four overs.
The Delhi batsmen slaughtered his medium pacers in Hyderabad’s following match and yet again, the soft-spoken lad’s resilience came to the forefront. It was that dreaded comeback spell which yielded two wickets in quick succession to give his team an outside chance of victory against Chennai Super Kings. When all seemed lost, Bhuvneshwar didn’t give up and planned dismissals with his biggest strengths — precise line and bowling to the field.
That feat against Kings XI Punjab, in a losing cause, triggered a string of top notch performances. Mumbai Indians’ backbone was chopped off in the early overs while chasing Hyderabad’s huge total. By shattering Rohit Sharma’s stumps and frustrating the batsmen with his nagging precision, he ended up with mean figures of two 17. Before AB de Villiers’s artful destruction of Steyn, Bhuvneshwar rattled the Royal Challengers Bangalore top-order by sending Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli packing. His captain Shikhar Dhawan missed a trick in the end by exhausting his quota of overs early.
With his latest master-class, the India international has proved his credentials to cut it at the world stage. Apart from the ordinary outing against Delhi, Bhuvneshwar has not had an economy rate that exceeded six runs an over in a single match.
In a recent interview, he stated that Hyderabad have the best bowling amongst all teams and it speaks volumes of the new wave of confidence he has gained. Bhuvneshwar also credited Steyn for improving his performances in the final overs. He is clearly relishing bowling with the South African speedster and his consistency with the ball remains a vital cog in Hyderabad’s set-up.
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(R Vishal is a journalist and alumni of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)