India vs New Zealand 2017: Bhuvneshwar Kumar reveals how he used the knuckle ball to outsmart Colin Munro
What's the story?
Indian seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has shed light on the knuckle ball that he smartly used to outsmart Colin Munro in the second ODI against New Zealand at the Maharashtra Cricket Association (MCA) Stadium in Pune. In a video posted on bcci.tv, the 27-year-old, in conversation with fellow fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah, revealed the secret behind this new delivery in his repertoire.
When Bumrah asked him about the change in thought-process between the two matches, Bhuvneshwar said that the only thing that he tried to change was his delivery to Munro. He went after the Indian team in the last match, so Bhuvneshwar set up a plan for him this time around.
When Bumrah inquired about the origin of the new weapon in his arsenal, Bhuvneshwar divulged, "I developed the knuckle ball just before the IPL, during Test matches. Keeping in mind that the ball does not swing much in India and you have (only) two fielders in catching (positions), I tried to develop that variation. I did not know that will come in handy during ODIs and T20Is."
On the flat surface in Pune, Bhuvneshwar produced an outstanding spell of seam bowling to help India restrict New Zealand to an underwhelming total of 230 for the loss of nine wickets. The home team's formidable batting lineup cruised to the target with six wickets to spare, and the right-arm seamer walked away with the Player of the Match award for his three-wicket haul which came at the cost of just 45 runs.
The heart of the matter
During the 2011 World Cup, Zaheer Khan employed the knuckle ball and left many accomplished batsmen baffled with his canny variations in pace. In contrast to the iconic left-armer who released the exotic delivery from the back of his hand, Bhuvneshwar relies on subtle adjustments in grip and sends the delivery down through his fingers.
The batsman expects the ball to come on and goes through with his shot, but the knuckle ball grips in the air and arrives much later than anticipated. Munro, who has been opening the innings for the Kiwis in this series, was castled by one such knuckle ball from Bhuvneshwar in the seventh over of the game. The left-hander's early dismissal went a long way in enabling India to secure a series-levelling victory.
India will be hoping that Bhuvneshwar continues to use the knuckle ball to good effect when the third and final ODI against New Zealand takes place on Sunday in Kanpur.
Over the last couple of years, Bhuvneshwar has turned himself into a reliable bowler across all formats of the game. Working hard on his fitness and increasing his average speeds, he has also developed quite a few variations to unsettle batsmen. The manner in which he plotted Munro's dismissal gives us an insight into his profound tactical nous.