India tour of England 2014: Is Bhuvneshwar Kumar redefining lower-order batting
Bhuvneshwar Kumar added some valuable runs for India in the Trent Bridge Test © Getty Image
With the last decade of Indian cricket littered with innumerable names trying to fill the shoes of the pace bowling all-rounder slot that India craves for, Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s stellar show at Nottingham during the first Test against England indicates that India are closing in on finding the right man for the job. R Vishal has more…
Bhuvneshwar Kumar typifies a new generation tail-ender. Gone are the days of No 9 batsman of old, who showed little application at the crease. Now, improving one’s stance or showing the temperament and support to a recognised batsman at the other end can help the team to steal those few extra runs that may turn out to be decisive in the team’s pursuit of a win.
Bhuvaneshwar, in his seven-Test old career for India has looked every inch a lower-order batsman, who can frustrate the best of bowlers. With England too caught up in darting deliveries to clean up the tail, Bhuvaneshwar fought back with a terrific counter-attack that took England off guard in both the innings at Trent Bridge.
With India still searching for their elusive pace-bowing all-rounder, Stuart Binny was the one picked to play that role for India for the tour of England. However, he got to barely roll his arm in the first Test at Trent Bridge. Despite Binny’s fighting knock to save India from a precarious position in the second innings, it remains to be seen how much MS Dhoni trusts him.
Actually, some of Bhuvneshwar’s heroics in the first Test are already etched in the record books. He is now the first No 9 in history to score two fifties and take a five-wicket haul and the second to score two fifties after coming in at seven down. Despite his first five-wicket haul at Trent Bridge, his batting walked away with all the plaudits. He now averages an impressive 36.16 and his stroke-play and determination at the crease promise more.
There were a few, who questioned Ravichandran Ashwin’s exclusion from the starting XI. Former New Zealand captain, Martin Crowe tore into the coaching staff. The exclusion was justified given Ashwin’s poor record away from home and also to have more batting depth lower down the order. The batting form displayed by Bhuvaneshwar and his partner-in-crime, Mohammed Shami can open the doors for Ashwin. It remains to be seen if the team management wants to play two spinners. Bhuvneshwar though, continues to rise exponentially with each passing Test in more ways than one.
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(R Vishal is a journalist and an alumni of the Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)