Bhuvneshwar Kumar's debut: How the UP boy wrecked havoc against Pakistan
Think of a poor boy from the dusty by-lanes of Uttar Pradesh who grows up with the boundless hunger and ambition in his eyes to play for Team India. From the dusty by-lanes to lush green cricket fields, Bhuvneshwar Kumar's saga is one of running in, bending his back in the scorching summer hit, and then swinging the ball.
On an occasion or two, he gets the ball to talk — he can deliver the red cherry and impart it magical wings, asking it to swing whichever way he wants it to.
Well, dreams do come true as the young Bhuvneshwar Kumar found out. Despite his humble origins from his family in Uttar Pradesh, it was his sister Rekha Adhana who encouraged him to take up cricket and took him to his first coaching centre.
From a few brilliant first-class performances and Man of the Match awards, his big break came when he became the first bowler to dismiss the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for a duck in first-class cricket in the 2008-09 Ranji Trophy final.
He was living a dream, swinging his way into stardom. And when his international debut finally came against Pakistan in the first T20I of the series at Bengaluru on 25th December, 2012, he was hardly overwhelmed by the occasion. On the contrary, he was ready to show the world his magic.
The magical debut
Bhuvi, as he later came to be fondly known among his teammates, put in a stellar performance on his debut which is remembered even today.
India, while batting first, struggled to get going and managed a paltry total of 133 for 9. Ajinkya Rahane and Gautam Gambhir had given India a great start taking them to 77 for no loss off the 11th over.
But after their dismissals, India suffered a batting collapse in the middle overs after Saeed Ajmal and Umar Gul ripped through the middle order sharing five wickets between them.
India were pretty downcast after that performance till their young debutant Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave them hope, sending the Pakistani top order packing with a brilliant spell of swing bowling.
Bhuvi showed his talent off his very first over in international cricket as he beautifully demonstrated the art of setting up a batsman. He kept bowling outside the off-stump to the opener Nasir Jamshed till the last ball of the over which prodigiously swung in and castled his stumps.
In his second over, he quickly removed Ahmed Shehzad with a full out-swing delivery that the batsman edged to Dhoni. And off the last ball of that over, he cleaned up Umar Akmal with a brilliant inswinging delivery.
Bhuvi was on fire and Pakistan were in deep trouble at 11 for 3. As a debutant, he had already displayed the rare ability to swing the ball both ways with utter perfection. He finished with a dream spell of 3/9 on his debut.
What happened soon after
Despite Bhuvi’s early brilliance, India lost that match thanks to a brilliant partnership from Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Mallik. However, due to his good performances, Bhuvneshwar was handed a debut in the ODI series against Pakistan that followed soon after and he did not disappoint.
He bowled a brilliant spell of 2 for 27 in his very first ODI which included a dream delivery to dismiss Mohammad Hafeez off his very first ball in ODI cricket.
It was ball delivered on a fourth stump line that seemed to be leaving the batsman. Hafeez decided to let it go but the ball prodigiously swung in to take his off-stump, leaving the batsman totally bamboozled.
Over the years, Bhuvneshwar has given Indian cricket a lot of moments to cherish as he left the opposition batsmen bedazzled with his prodigious talent of swing bowling.
Consistent across all formats of the game, Bhuvi is now the senior bowler in the side who guides the younger talents around him. His ability to swing the ball at great pace and then execute the yorkers at the death makes him a rare talent in the Indian bowling department.
We do hope that he has many more years of cricket ahead of him and he takes India to newer heights in the days to come.
Also read: Yuvraj Singh's six sixes: How it happened