India vs New Zealand 2017: Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the best death bowler in the world, says Shikhar Dhawan
What's the story?
Flamboyant opener Shikhar Dhawan has labelled his teammate Bhuvneshwar Kumar as the best death bowler in the world. Hailing the impeccable control of the versatile seamer, the left-hander also insisted that the 27-year-old's spell with the new ball went a long way in helping India dominate New Zealand in the second ODI at the MCA Stadium in Pune.
At the post-match press conference, Dhawan said, "Bhuvneshwar has raised his level and his control is (also) very good. Even when he is bowling slower deliveries or knuckle balls, he makes sure that he is pitching the ball in the right areas. When it comes to the death overs, he is the best bowler in the world."
He added that he has seen him consistently bowl yorkers in the IPL and in matches for India, and that he has been doing it consistently well.
Having played alongside Bhuvneshwar over the years for Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the IPL, Dhawan has seen the right-armer's rapid improvement from close quarters over the last couple of seasons.
The heart of the matter
At a time when India was faced with the prospect of a must-win game in order to take the series to a decider, Bhuvneshwar gave the team the perfect start on a docile pitch. He made optimum use of the new ball, and picked up the wickets of Martin Guptill and Colin Munro in his first spell; Munro was undone by a spectacular knuckle ball.
Bhuvneshwar returned in the death overs to halt New Zealand's progress. After removing the well-set Henry Nicholls with a precise fuller delivery, he kept the lower-order on a tight leash by stitching quite a few economical overs together during the final phase of the innings.
His effort helped India restrict the Kiwis to 230, and the seamer was deservedly rewarded with the Player of the Match award. Skipper Virat Kohli will be hoping for one more game-changing performance from his leading fast bowler when the action shifts to the all-important series decider in Kanpur on Sunday.
Parallels from history
This is not the first time that Bhuvneshwar has received such massive praise from another top-level cricketer. Earlier this year, Sri Lankan maestro Muttiah Muralitharan called him the best bowler in IPL history. During the 2016 IPL edition, SRH coach Tom Moody acknowledged him as one of the most skillful bowlers of the type that are 'few and far between'.
While the likes of Mitchell Starc, Hasan Ali, Kagiso Rabada and Trent Boult may hold a better claim to the throne of the best fast bowler in the world, Bhuvneshwar's ability to churn out yorkers at will and his propensity to utilise variations properly make him an extremely reliable operator in the death overs.