Rise of India’s ‘Swing-King’ Bhuvneshwar Kumar

| Updated: 09 July, 2022 7:14 pm IST

BENGALURU: Though Hardik Pandya deservingly walked away with the kudos by thumping a half-century and chalking up four wickets in the first T20I against England, the most stunning moment of the match was conjured up by Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

In the first over, Bhuvi whipped out a vicious delivery which started one foot outside the off-stump but swung prodigiously to castle England captain Jos Buttler for a duck. Buttler is in outrageously stellar form in the format as he had cracked four blistering hundreds in the recently-concluded Indian Premier League. By getting rid of the most dangerous batsman in the format, Bhuvi deflated England’s 199-run chase.

Dismissing the best batsmen of the opposition early on has been the hallmark of Bhuvneshwar in the T20Is for a while. After nipping out Buttler, the swing bowler conceded only 10 runs in 3 overs and was instrumental in India’s win. This has been the character of ‘Bhuvi’ for a very long time. Not only does he lend early breakthroughs for his team, but he’s also supremely parsimonious when it comes to giving away runs.

Though he hasn’t played Test cricket since 2018, Bhuvneshwar has been one of the leading bowlers in the T20 format – both for India as well his IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad. His ability to generate swing both ways with the new hall has no parallel in world cricket. He’s not just a wicket-taking bowler but also is teasingly miser as far as economy rate is concerned.

Since 2018, Bhuvneshwar has bagged 46 scalps in 44 T20Is for India. Only Yuzvendra Chahal, who is a leg-spinner, has taken more wickets than him. What also sets him apart is his outstanding economy rate (7.37). This accentuates the fact that opposition batsmen are wary against him and try to score off other bowlers. While Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have been terrific in the ODIs and Tests, they are not a patch on Bhuvi in the T20Is.

If we look at the best swing bowlers in the T20s since 2018 in the world, only Tim Southee, Shaheen Afridi and Chris Jordan have taken more wickets than him in the format. His economy rate however is still the best among them. His biggest weapon in the format is the knuckle-ball which he bowls with appreciable skill and control.

In the recent T20I series at home, Bhuvneshwar was adjudged Man of the Series as he picked up six wickets and helped India draw the series 2-2 after they had lost the first two matches.

“Bhuvi was special in this whole series as we came up against some quality bowling. He put us under pressure in Powerplays and barring one game (Delhi), where we got off to a good start, they have dominated us with both ball and bat in Powerplays,” said South Africa’s coach Mark Boucher.

There are some quality swing bowlers in the world at present such as Southee, Trent Boult and Shaheen but none of them has the application and control that Bhuvi has in the T20 format.

India are brimming with fast bowlers at present – Bumrah, Shami, Prasidh Krishna and Umesh Yadav, to name a few – but none of them swings the ball as prodigiously as Bhuvi does. Thakur and Deepak Chahar are youngsters who have the felicity to become world-class swing bowlers in the future but currently, they are living in Bhuvi’s shadows.

At a time when India are constantly experimenting in the bilateral T20I series to get their best playing XI in place for the World T20 that is slated to take place this year, Bhuvi’s presence in the squad is almost a certainty. He hasn’t been a part of the team which has won the World Cup yet. This is perhaps his last chance to rise to the occasion and deliver the knock-out punch on the biggest stage.

Also Read Story

EVM manipulation allegations in Mumbai Election: Officials refute claims

AAP blames BJP for vandalizing Delhi Jal Board office amid water crisis protest

Union Home Minister chairs high-level J&K security review meeting in Delhi

Santanu Sinha issues second apology letter for BJP’s Amit Malviya