Why dropping Bhuvneshwar Kumar sends the wrong message
India lost the first Test of the ongoing series in South Africa by 72 runs. In the loss, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar stood tall. Hardik's 93 in the first innings was impressive and Bhuvneshwar was excellent with both bat and ball.
In South Africa's first innings, Bhuvi destroyed the hosts' top order and had them tottering at 12-3. He dismissed Dean Elgar, Aiden Markram, and Hashim Amla quickly to give India a strong start.
When he walked out to bat in the first innings, India were struggling at 91-7. He took his time early on and stitched an excellent 99-run partnership with Pandya. He made 25 runs off 86 balls but more importantly, his stay helped Pandya play his natural game.
He continued his good work with the ball in the second innings by picking up two wickets. He also batted well in the second innings, scoring an unbeaten 13 off 62 deliveries.
The Uttar Pradesh pacer was undoubtedly the hero for India in the first Test. Although he made significant contributions with both bat and ball, the team management preferred Ishant Sharma for the second Test, citing the extra bounce factor.
Bhuvi may not get the extra bounce, but surely he would have made a difference with the ball, considering the form he is in. He put South Africa on the back foot with his telling spell with the ball in the opener. The opening duo of Markram and Elgar started the series with some form under their belt but had no answers to Bhuvi's scintillating spell. Hashim Amla, one of the best batsmen of the modern era, struggled to pick his moving balls as well.
India didn't lose the first Test due to poor bowling, but rather some insipid batting. So, there was no need to tinker with the bowling unit which was doing exceedingly well.
The 27-year-old batted well when India's specialist batsmen failed. He batted patiently, leaving the ball well and occupying the crease. He took 34 balls to score his first run in the first innings.
The right-hand batsman averages 27.91 away from home, and has amassed three fifties whereas specialist batsman Rohit Sharma averages a paltry 25.11 in away conditions. Bhuvneshwar bats at No. 9, which makes the numbers all the more compelling.
While it is true that Ishant can extract extra bounce from the pitch, including him at the expense of the in-form Bhuvi was not a smart move. By dropping the in-form pacer, the team management have sent out a wrong message.
Moreover, skipper Virat Kohli said they preferred Rohit Sharma ahead of Ajinkya Rahane because the former is is form. However, that same theory didn't apply in Bhuvneshwar Kumar's case.