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Tell the world that Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back

Bhuvneshwar Kumar in action. Picture Credit (BCCI)
Bhuvneshwar Kumar in action. Picture Credit (BCCI)
TOP CONTRIBUTOR
Modified 21 Mar 2021
Feature

As Bhuvneshwar Kumar walked in to receive his Man of the Match award at the post-match presentation last night, there was some emotion in his response to being asked how good he was in the series.

"It's always good to be back, ahh, no don't want to say that because whenever I said it in the last one year nothing good happened after that but yes always good to contribute to the team," Bhuvneshwar Kumar said.

Such has been the Bhuvneshwar Kumar story, a career that has been marred by injuries at very regular intervals. Just when it looks like he's getting into a rhythm of sorts, you see him break down again. The pain in his words was there for all to see.

In the midst of all these injuries, there is a lot of skill on display from a world-class bowler. When Bhuvneshwar Kumar is taking wickets for India with the new ball, everything seems to fall into place.

With Bhuvneshwar comes a truckload of experience. He's been in the toughest of situations and has delivered time and time again. If such a highly skilled bowler is back from an injury and raring to go, the selection headache it brings to the think tank is a good one.

What impact did Bhuvneshwar Kumar leave in his comeback series?

Coming into the series, India were missing their best T20 bowler in Jasprit Bumrah for well-documented reasons. The onus was on Bhuvneshwar Kumar to step up in his absence and bowl the tough overs. The Sunrisers Hyderabad pacer was making a comeback after some time out of the game and was put in the firing line straight away.

Bhuvneshwar looked a little off-colour in the first game, and understandably so. He was rusty, and one could see he had to work his way into full rhythm. He bowled only two overs as England made quick work of India's modest total of 125.

It was in the second game that he showed the first signs of returning to his very best. Swinging the new ball both ways at will and with good control, but more importantly, taking wickets with these deliveries. He got Buttler with a beautiful in-dipper which went on to strike him in line with the stumps.

From that game, there has been no looking back for Kumar. He has gone at an economy rate of 6.39 over the course of a five-match series. Now let's add some context to the magnitude of that number.

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Kumar bowls what is known as the 'hard overs' in a T20 game. The powerplay where the fielding restrictions are in place and the death overs where there is essentially only one thing in the batsmen's mind (boundaries).

Let's break the numbers down into the powerplay and in the death overs.

This also includes two games where the effect of the dew was massive, and India were defending scores, the tougher task in these conditions. Also, he was part of a five-bowler attack for 4 of those 5 games. That meant he just could not afford to have an off-day and he didn't.

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Kumar came up against arguably the finest exponent of the power-play overs in world cricket, Jos Buttler, with the new ball. Buttler had a great series with the bat, scoring 172 runs at an average of 43.00, all while maintaining an impressive strike-rate of 147.00.

Yet, Bhuvneshwar kept him quiet in a phase of the game where he is supposed to be at his lethal best. He bowled more than 4 overs to Buttler in this series, going for just 26 runs.

This also included three dismissals in the five innings they came up against each others while bowling 13 dots in 25 deliveries. Those are the numbers of a world-class bowler who has managed to get the opposition's best T20 batsman at junctures in the contest when it mattered the most.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar heads into the ODIs next, his fitness will be put through a sterner test. For now, things look good but just like Bhuvneshwar Kumar did in the post-match, let's refrain from saying that?

Like Harsha Bhogle said at the end of his chat with Bhuvneshwar Kumar after his Man of the Match performance last night, it indeed is a 'good feeling' when he's around. For now, let's tell the world - Bhuvneshwar Kumar is back!

Published 21 Mar 2021, 18:46 IST
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