Special Bhuvneshwar finds his old zeal again

This is the best time to be a fast bowler in India. With so many heroes to look up to, it should not surprise anyone that budding cricketers in the maidaans now wish to emulate a Jasprit Bumrah or a Mohammed Shami.

The series against South Africa saw Avesh Khan make a fine comeback in Rajkot with a four-wicket haul after poor outings in the initial games. In the sidelines seated were Arshdeep Singh and Umran Malik, who would hope to make their India debuts later this month against Ireland.

Watching the future of India’s fast bowling was someone, who is looking to reclaim his best days again.

When Bhuvneshwar Kumar first broke into the Indian setup, it was his ability to swing the ball which, above everything else, made everyone stand up and take notice. Those inclined to the technical side of bowling such as Michael Holding stated that there was something old-fashioned about him, in that he released the ball from behind his front arm.

His action, nearly 10 years since debuting for India, has remained almost the same. What has varied frequently is his ability to swing the ball and even more worryingly, the pace oscillating between high-140s to mid-120s.

The latter aspect of his bowling was visible at the T20 World Cup last year, when it seemed like he was running on reserve energy and lacked the venom, which India desperately needed from his wrists.

However, you count out a proven past performer at your own peril for no champion takes a bad phase lying down, if anything the drive to prove the critics wrong only increases with each passing day.

And it seemed like Bhuvneshwar came into the series against South Africa, eager to show that what happened in the UAE last year was him bowling in someone else’s body. That the desire to excel remained. The need to succeed was as high as ever.

The first signs of the old zeal returning was seen in Cuttack, when with his side defending a modest 148 he gave the team the ideal start with three wickets in the Powerplay, the second and third swinging in late to beat the defences of Reeza Hendricks and Rassie van de Dussen. Picking wickets with the swinging ball is how Bhuvneshwar has earned his bread, for many years. It is what pays his bills.

But when those wickets come in the Powerplay overs of a T20I international, then the bowler becomes an asset for the side. In franchise cricket, ask the Mumbai Indians management and supporters about the impact Trent Boult had, during his stint there in the early overs

With other bowlers chipping in at Vizag and Rajkot, Bhuvneshwar could take a back seat and observe. But dents in Cuttack was enough for Bhuvneshwar to win the Player of the series award on Sunday and for visiting coach Mark Boucher to say the below words:

“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,”

A couple of T20Is against Ireland should give Bhuvneshwar some breather, in terms of the pressure to put the opposition on the back foot, from the word go. The zeal, though, must remain intact for sterner challenges which would follow those two games.

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