Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the winner of the Purple Cap in IPL 9 © AFP

Six months ago when India faced South Africa in a 50-over match, his figures read 10-0-106-1. He compromised his swing to bowl a couple of extra yards of pace. He clocked over 140 kmph but lost his ability to stick to one line and length. Bhuvneshwar Kumar was on the verge of losing his mojo. Instead of bowling banana in-swingers, he hit the deck hard; but he is no Jeff Thomson. Instead of beating the outside edge of the batsman with sharp out-swingers, he bowled back-of-length deliveries. He rarely pitched the bowl up in the last year and a half. And, eventually, India’s limited-over bowling spearhead lost his place in the playing XI. Read: India to begin title defence against Pakistan in Champions Trophy 2017

Bhuvi swings back to basics: All he needed was to swing back to basics and emulate the performances he put up when he first entered the international arena. Remember his first wicket off his very first ball? “Bhuvneshwar pitches it on on fifth stump and angles it in. Mohammad Hafeez leaves the ball, thinking it will go to the keeper. But the ball goes on to hit the off stump. He castles one of the finest Pakistani batsman of the current generation.”

After Praveen Kumar, India had found a bowler who could swing the ball both ways: a quality every bowlers strives hard to develop. India had found a bowler who was close to Irfan Pathan’s calibre at his peak.

Bhuvneshwar is gifted. He is extremely wristy and can roll his fingers at the last moment. It therefore boggled the mind as to why he strove to bowl an extra yard to lose those gifts. He even bowled cross-seam deliveries; something we saw James Anderson do in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, on Australian tracks. There is no harm in bowling cross-seamers, but what matters is where you bowl and in what conditions. Neither does Bhuvneshwar have height nor do subcontinent conditions favour such tactics. If the ball hits the seam, it will take off; if it doesn’t, it will extract normal bounce. In the process, he was taken to the cleaners.

However, in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL), he fired the ball with upright seam, and extracted sideways movement. As Ravi Shastri would call it, “Good seam presentation.”

Bhuvi hits ‘purple’ patch in IPL 2016: Going back to his original strengths did wonders for Bhuvneshwar’s performance. In IPL 2016, he picked up 23 wickets in 17 matches at an average of 21.30, with an economy of just over 7 on tracks that offered very little to the pacers.

He eventually won the Purple Cap for scalping most wickets. Moreover, he bowled 156 dot balls, which was the most by any bowler in this season. He swung the ball in the batting Powerplay and bowled in the block hole in death overs. He did everything a quality bowler is expected to do. Read: Bhuvneshwar Kumar wins purple cap for his impressive show for Sunrisers Hyderabad

Bhuvi revives the forgotten art: Of late, we hear commentators complaining about the forgotten art of bowling yorkers. No longer do we see pacers bowl toe-crushing yorkers. They either bowl half-volleys or hit the good length. With the bats getting thicker, the ball travels even longer.

His Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) skipper David Warner turned to him in the death overs to keep a lid on the runs. Bhuvneshwar did so by going the traditional way: he bowled everything in the block hole. Even with the modern-day batsman scooping it over fine leg, there are always great chances of getting wickets.

Selection for West Indies tour: Bhuvneshwar was benched throughout the ICC World T20 2016. He played only one match in Asia Cup 2016. His role of a bowling spearhead transformed into that of a backup bowler.

However, though he has not been getting game time, he never misses out in the 15-man squad. With Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, and Mohammed Shami all in contention for a spot in India’s Test XI, it is unlikely that Bhuvneshwar will find a spot immediately in the side. However, his disciplined line and length and his ability to swing the ball both ways will come in handy on West Indies’ slow tracks.

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)