Bhuvneshwar Kumar - Meerut's Good Boy
For some reason, Bhuvneshwar Kumar gives an impression to be a player from the by-gone era. Calm and composed, without tattoos, he has this good boy kind of image attached to him. But this soft-spoken Meerut born good boy can be ignored at one’s own peril. He has been making rapid strides where it matters i.e. on the cricket field. Since his debut in 2012, he has slowly but surely made a name for himself.
Came into limelight with Sachin’s wicket in the 2008-08 Ranji finals
The name Bhuvneshwar Kumar first came into limelight in the 2008-09 Ranji Trophy finals between Uttar Pradesh and Mumbai played at Hyderabad. Few days short of his 19th birthday, the young swing bowler dismissed the great Sachin Tendulkar for a duck. Incidentally, this was Sachin’s first duck in domestic cricket. Although, Uttar Pradesh lost the match, it was a dream come true for Kumar. The day before the match, Kumar had been day-dreaming about taking the great man’s wicket. Kumar had said, “It’s the first time I am bowling to him and I started thinking how it would feel if I end up taking his wicket”.
He has come a long way since then. From taking Sachin’s wicket to sharing the dressing room with him, today he is an integral part of the Indian team across formats. He had a near ideal ODI debut when he picked up a wicket with his first international delivery. In this debut match against Pakistan, he ended up with figures of 2-27 from 9 overs with the help of three maidens. And he hasn’t looked back since then.
The journey hasn’t been easy
But it wasn’t an easy journey and he gives credit to his sister Rekha, who had apparently convinced his father to allow him to take cricket as a career. Coming from a small town, had its own challenges, but his father Kiran Pal Singh felt that staying in Meerut, in fact, proved to be fruitful. He had once said, “It could have been so easy to move to Delhi and enroll him (Bhuvneshwar) there. But we realised that Delhi cricket is huge, has a bigger structure and so many more people playing, so he may not have got as many chances. It's good that his talent was noticed here in Meerut.”
Today, not only Meerut or Uttar Pradesh but the entire cricketing world recognises his talent. In the recently concluded test series against South Africa, he took 10 wickets and scored over 100 runs in the two tests that he played in. He was instrumental in India’s victory in the third test and also won the man of the match award for his all-round performance.
Had an excellent England tour in 2014
One of his best series as a player was the England tour in 2014 when he took 19 wickets (with two five-wicket hauls) and scored 247 runs (with three fifties). He was India’s lone star in an otherwise forgettable tour and won the man of the series award for his efforts.
Apart from his wicket-taking abilities, he has been an economical bowler as suggested by his under 5 economy rate in ODIs. Even in the IPL, his economy rate is just over 7, which is very good by T20 standards. He is also the sixth highest all-time wicket taker (111 wickets in 90 matches) in IPL’s history. Not surprisingly, he has been the proud holder of the Purple Cap (given to the highest wicket-taker in IPL) over the last two seasons.
2018 could Bhuvneshwar’s year
But as he turns 28 years old today, Bhuvneshwar knows that he still has a long way to go. In a recent interview, he had said that he has dreams, but he hasn’t set any goals with respect to a number of matches or wickets that he wants to take. But when he hangs up his boots, he wants to have a good stats and wants to be remembered as someone who had contributed to Indian cricket.
We all know that he is no bunny with the bat and has pulled India out of troubled waters umpteen times. With his batting ability getting better each day, the Indian team would be hoping that he turns to be that fast-bowling all-rounder which the team has been searching for years. On his 28th birthday, I wish him a very happy birthday and hope that 2018 is the year that defines him as a cricketer. And given the fact that India is slated to tour England & Australia later this year, my wish has a strong potential of turning into reality.