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Bhuvneshwar Kumar, lone Warrior in a defeated army

Chinmay Brahme

Posted: May 11, 2013 at 1140 hrs IST

Pune: Over the course of the season, the Pune Warriors have tried several pacers. Ashok Dinda, Kane Richardson, Wayne Parnell, Krishnakant Upadhyay, Mitchell Marsh and Angelo Mathews make a long list of new-ball bowlers who have made it to the playing XI but failed to cement their spot. Cutting a lone figure of consistency is this fluid cast happens to be Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who happens to be Indian cricket’s big hope for next month’s Champions Trophy in England.

Kumar has been the lone bright spot for the Warriors as they stay rooted to the bottom of the table. Against Mumbai Indians on Saturday as the Warriors look to break their run of eight successive IPL losses, hope will once again rest on the young shoulders of the right-arm pacer.

Before the game against KKR that Pune lost, captain Aaron Finch had praised his strike bowler. “He is very skillful, knows what is happening at every stage of the game and applies himself in the appropriate manner. Not just for the team, he has been one of the biggest positives of the league,” he said.

Sri Lankan’s captain for the Champions Trophy, Angelo Mathews, too has been impressed by the 23-year-old. “He hits the right lengths, he knows his strengths and he ensures that he utilises them to the maximum,” said Mathews after Kumar had conceded just 25 runs from his four overs and dismissed Bisla, ten Doeschate, Yusuf Pathan,

Kumar’s 12 wickets in 13 matches in this edition of the league have come at a tidy average of 25.91. Also, unlike the other Pune pacers, Kumar’s economy rate is a decent 6.61. What seems to have worked for Kumar is the fact that he has looked to keep things simple. Nearly 70 per cent of Kumar’s deliveries have come at the near-perfect back of a length and this keeps the batsmen in two minds as they deal with the prodigious swing.

In the Warriors’ first game of the season against the Rajasthan Royals, Kumar served a vicious in-swinger to Kushal Perera, trapping him plumb in front on the first ball. In Pune’s victory against CSK in Chennai, Kumar trapped Anirudha Srikkanth leg before with the second ball of the day and then removed the dangerous Suresh Raina in the next over with another swinging delivery. In both games, early wickets gave Pune momentum which was translated into victories.

Kumar has also acquitted himself favorably in the death bowling department. What seems to have worked for Kumar is his penchant for bowling full and wide. With a majority of batsmen making room by backing away from the stumps, even slightly over-pitched deliveries on the fourth stump and just inside the wide markers have not been scored off.

Against, RCB in Bangalore, with Gayle wreaking havoc, Kumar conceded just 23 runs in his four overs, giving away just four boundaries and no sixes. His plan of attack seemed to be concentrated on the off-stump and with three of his four overs bowled in the power-play, Kumar always brought the threat of away movement which seemed to put a seed of doubt even in Gayle’s mind.

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