Home > Features >

Bhuvneshwar Kumar: The classic case of an Indian paceman

Bhuvneshwar started offf as the brightest swing prospect since the fall of Irfan Pathan © AFP
Bhuvneshwar Kumar started off as the brightest swing prospect in India since the fall of Irfan Pathan © AFP

By Sudatta Mukherjee

Somewhere around January 2009, a boy from Meerut, a month short of turning 19, became the first Indian bowler to dismiss the Indian batting legend Sachin Tendulkar for a duck in a First-Class match. It was the Ranji Trophy final of 2008-09 season.

Fast forward to 2013: the same boy, now a 23-year-old, took the whole cricket world by surprise with his ability to swing the ball both ways and for picking up the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez with his the first ball of his One-Day International debut (thus being only the second Indian to achieve this feat). A year afterwards that same youngster, for whom swinging the ball was his greatest strength, struggles and his bowling average since October 2013 is 67.25.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Even though his ODI economy rate is 5.55, Bhuvneshwar has barely been able to pick up wickets since the home ODI series against Australia. Before India’s match against Pakistan in the Asia Cup 2014, his last two-wicket haul came in November against West Indies at home and before that against Sri Lanka at Port of Spain in July or else he has been picking single wickets in most matches since October, 2013.

What went wrong?

When the likes of Zaheer Khan and Ashish Nehra had broken into the international scene, seniors like Javagal Srinath and Venkatesh Prasad were still playing. Zaheer and Nehra were well guided by Srinath and Prasad, i.e., the pressure didn’t come to youngsters like to the duo. When Irfan Pathan and Lakshmipathy Balaji had made their debut, there were Anil Kumble and Ajit Agarkar. Kumble might not have been a pacer, but it is common knowledge how influential he can be as a mentor (he has guided the Mumbai Indians to Indian Premier League (IPL) and Champions League T20 wins last season).

After Zaheer and Nehra’s debut, 29 fast bowlers have played for India, including Irfan and Balaji. The list also includes the likes of RP Singh, S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Ishant Sharma, R Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar. And we are not even counting the all-rounders like Stuart Binny. It clearly shows that India do produce fast bowlers, but what is the reason behind most of them failing?

A good potential like Sreesanth had destroyed his career by getting involved in spot-fixing and other disciplinary issues. Ishant, who leads the pace bowling department when Zaheer isn’t playing, has not performed as was expected from him. Moreover, he doesn’t want to be regarded as the senior bowler. For the likes of Yadav, Aaron and Vinay Kumar, they are yet to be shaped and molded in the best shape for international games.

For the last one year, the way Shami and Bhuvneshwar have performed for India, no other bowlers have. As a result, they have almost always opened the bowling for the team, even if Ishant has been there. However, the problem lies in the duo not receiving guidance from the likes of Zaheer. Zaheer had been away from the international circuit and had only returned during the tour to South Africa.

Shami, on the other hand, has played fewer of ODI games than Bhuvneshwar, but has emerged as a better bowler. This can be due to Shami being mentored by Wasim Akram at the Kolkata Knight Riders till last season. He also has the advantage of being a faster bowler.

As for Bhuvneshwar, he looks up to Praveen Kumar, who last played an ODI for India in March 2012, who has been rebuked time and over for his on-field behavior. Allan Donald was the head coach of Pune Warriors India when Bhuvneshwar played for them. However, a poor season had affected them more and players like Bhuvneshwar hardly got a chance to bloom.

What should be done?

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) should take the responsibility of shaping young bowlers like Bhuvneshwar. India should take a lesson out of Australia’s book: Cricket Australia (CA) had hired Craig McDermott has their bowling coach and, of late, Shane Warne as the spin bowling coach. They exactly know how to keep their bowlers at their very best, and we saw how Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon performing commendably under their capable supervision. Someone like Zaheer, Manoj Prabhakar, TA Sekar or Kumble should be approached by BCCI to help the young Indian players to perform better.

Having said that, it also depends on the player whether they want to be taught and whether they want to learn.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 29, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Aug 30, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Nottingham

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 30, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Dambulla

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 31, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

India tour of England 2014

Sep 2, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Birmingham

More

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Harare

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Basseterre, St Kitts

No result

India tour of England 2014

Aug 27, 2014  at Cardiff

India won by 133 runs

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 26, 2014  at Hambantota

Sri Lanka won by 77 runs

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 25, 2014  at Harare

Australia won by 198 runs

Photos

Don Bradman's ducks

Videos

Dhoni praises Raina's century in 2nd ODI

MS Dhoni did not cross the line, clarifies BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel

Suresh Raina: Ravi Shastri gave us a lot of confidence

Adam Gilchrist ‘apologises’ to Glenn McGrath on Twitter

Michael Hussey calls for stringent measures to prevent illegal bowling actions

MS Dhoni heaps praise on Suresh Raina for match-winning knock

Australia Australia and South Africa in Zimbabwe 2014 England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 South Africa Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014 Zimbabwe Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014

Zimbabwe vs South Africa 3rd ODI, Zimbabwe Triangular Series 2014 preview: A battle of two extremes

Indian cricket: Micromax new title sponsors for International series and domestic tournaments for 2014-15

Misbah-ul Haq needs to be more proactive in 3rd ODI, says Rameez Raja

Faf du Plessis: Victory in 2nd ODI, not revenge for Test loss

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014: Kashmiri students bashed up in Punjab for supporting Pakistan

Suresh Raina’s new avatar on India’s tour of England 2014

Four best partnerships between Faf du Plessis and AB de Villiers

Aaron Finch rapidly emerging as Australia’s key batsman

Ravindra Jadeja: India’s go-to man against England in ODIs

Indian team discusses victory over England in 2nd ODI on Facebook

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

666 Posts | 6 Fans

12 runs in one ball

World Cup 2015: David Richardson satisfied with ICC World Cup 2015 preparations

Ranbir Kapoor or Deepika Padukone: Who pouts best?- Vote!

Aircel-Maxis deal: Supreme Court says no to stopping CBI charge sheet against Maran

Shah Rukh Khan: I perform stunts for Suhana and Aryan

Ebola facts — frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Why adding every part of coconut to your diet is a healthy idea

BREAKING NEWS: Vikrant Massey is engaged?

Gionee Gpad G5 with Hexa-core processor and Android Kitkat launched for Rs 14,999

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here