When Bhuvneshwar Kumar graced the Lord's honours board
- Bhuvneshwar Kumar bagged a six-wicket haul at Lord's in 2014 to pave the way for India's famous Test win.
- Kumar ripped through England's formidable batting line-up, and etched his name on the honours board.
We all remember Bhuvneshwar Kumar's peach to Mohammad Hafeez, which jagged back notoriously before toppling his off-pole. The Indian pacer managing to make the experienced campaigner Hafeez look amateur ranks high amongst the greatest debut moments ever.
The curators at Chepauk, where Bhuvneshwar produced the aforementioned sorcery, had dished out an absolute featherbed. Yet, least bothered by the assistance at his disposal, the wiry medium-pacer dictated terms. Courtesy of impeccable seam presentation and flawless execution, Bhuvneshwar made a lasting impression on cricket fans around the world.
And hence, when Bhuvneshwar stood at the top of his bowling mark at the start of the 2nd Test at Lord's in India's tour of England in 2014, everyone gazed in anticipation. As he stood eager to weave his magic, the fans in the stadium almost began to feel trepidation at the sight.
The rationale behind the public sentiment couldn't be questioned. Wicked green patches on the pitch at Lord's dominated Alastair Cook's vision. The breeze whooshed across the iconic premises with malignant intentions. Rahul Dravid then rang the ceremonious bell, but even he could not have known what awaited England on the day ahead.
Scampering in from the Nursery End, Bhuvneshwar peppered the fourth stump channel, getting the ball to move around. Cook fended reluctantly, with the dearth of runs under his belt conspicuous.
Another 'jaffer' whistled past the outside edge, eliciting theatrics from the slip cordon. Such was Bhuvneshwar's bowling- each delivery brought forth the sense of impending doom for the batsmen. Cook's nervy technique wasn't helping the cause either.
Non-striker Sam Robson watched the spectacle unfold from the relatively safe confines of the popping crease. He frequently dawdled towards the experienced campaigner, to offer some advice and soothing words.
However, this didn't bear much fruit as Bhuvneshwar drew first blood. Cook feathered an away-slanter behind to the keeper, with his feet moving worse than an toddler. Demolition had begun.
Robson himself found the going tough, but managed to rotate the strike, even though a few rash strokes landed safely. Sticking to his guns, Bhuvneshwar hovered in the corridor of uncertainty, and the trigger-happy Robson eventually ran out of patience. He flashed his blade at an innocuous tempter, which should have been let go at any cost.
Bhuvneshwar had emphatically won the first-blink challenge twice, and had reduced England to rabble-like status early in the opening session. Tempers flared. This was evident from the vociferous crowd, which hurled jibes at Robson as he departed, teaching him quite unabashedly about the rigours of international cricket.
For brief phases, you felt like you were being teleported down memory lane. You were taken back to a time when quicks from the subcontinent, despite the conditions favouring the ball, were largely ineffective on foreign soil.
For instance, Ian Bell discovered his groove after some initial circumspection. He seemed like an immovable object at the crease, blocking right under his nose, whilst dispatching anything marginally loose with typical panache. Nevertheless, India's trump card had many arrows in his quiver to bring about an end to Bell's steadfastness.
The vacant cover region was the dangling carrot, as Bhuvneshwar served up two juicy half-volleys, only to witness Bell graciously decline the poisoned chalice. Take your lessons, Robson.
Oh wait, hang on! Forthwith, Bhuvneshwar pounded the deck hard and the lifter carved in majestically, deceiving Bell's attempt at withdrawing his bat. The bouncer thudded into him on the glove, before settling into Ravindra Jadeja's palms at gully. Amidst the incessant chatter surrounding India's lack of the cutting edge, Bhuvneshwar's unwavering persistence had left England gasping for breath.
Gary Ballance's vigilant hundred meant that the English ship was prevented from sinking. When England seemed to have consolidated their innings, luck smiled upon India, and Bhuvneshwar produced the vital breakthrough yet again, strangling the centurion down the leg-side.
The fortuitous dismissal swung the pendulum in India's favour, and Ballance admonished himself for squandering the momentum when the close was nigh.
The following morning saw Bhuvneshwar unleash the double whammy, further aggravating England's deep-seated lower-order batting concerns. The youngster proved the beneficiary of the moisture trapped beneath the surface when his snorter zipped through Ben Stokes' defenses.
This dismissal firmly etched the Indian pacer's name on the Lord's honours board. Interestingly, it was Bhuvneshwar's first outing at the Home of Cricket.
God knows why Stuart Broad fancied an outrageous backfoot swish, as Bhuvneshwar fittingly hammered the final nail in England's coffin. The speedster marshalled his teammates off the field, with a thunderous round of applause validating his sensational exploits. Battered and bruised, the hosts had received a taste of their own medicine.