Mohali: The series of losses that the Indian team has suffered across all formats in international cricket in the last couple of years has made even the most faithful of its fans a wee bit pessimistic about its future.
Given all that gloom it’s justifiable that they get overexcited when someone like Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara get runs at the top level. The latest man to get their pulse racing has been the right-arm swing bowler Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
• Swing ace Bhuvneshwar Kumar (centre) has been a revelation for Team India since his debut against Pakistan recently
His first month in international cricket has been nothing short of a dream. With his first 12 balls in international cricket he had picked three wickets against Pakistan in a T20 but more than that what was exciting was his ability to move the ball both in and away from the batsman with consummate ease.
The fans were abuzz. “Did you see how much the ball moved in to remove KP? Did you see how much he swung one to knock out that Pakistani?” they went. This is not the first time in last few years that a swing bowler is raising excitement levels. We have seen the likes of Irfan Pathan, Praveen Kumar and RP Singh.
So what sets Bhuvaneshwar apart from them? Who better than MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, to answer those questions? Dhoni shared his thoughts on Bhuvneshwar with Mirror.
“He is actually a similar kind of bowler to Praveen but it is his in-swinger that sets him apart,” Dhoni told Mirror. “Bhuvneshwar’s in-swinger comes in from further outside off and is more often than not ends up on the off and the middle stump and that makes him more dangerous.”
The new two-ball rule too has helped him but a few fans are still cautious. “But ... but he doesn’t bowl with the old ball at all. Dhoni seems to finish off the ten overs quickly up front. Does that indicate he can’t bowl well with the oldish ball?” Dhoni answered those concerns as well.
“Right now we are giving him the new ball and bowling him out in one single spell. He is bowling really well. But we will have to see how he bowls with the semi-new or the old ball. We will have to see how he responds in the middle overs.
We will have to wait and watch how he evolves in coming months, although I must say that he is bowling brilliantly at this point of time.” Dhoni doesn’t want to compare him with Irfan. “Irfan can bat well too; so that makes him too different from Bhuvaneshwar.”
While he was brilliant against Pakistan, Bhuvaneshwar has been consistent in this series against England. After going wicketless on a batting beauty at Rajkot, he picked three at Kochi including that of Kevin Pietersen with a ball that came in sharply.
Two balls later he had Eoin Morgan caught behind with a delivery that slanted away. In Ranchi though he picked just one wicket but gave just 40 runs from his quota of ten overs.
In a recent write-up for a cricket website former India player Sanjay Manjrekar had mentioned that how famous Indian victories, be it the 1983 World Cup, Leeds 2002, Adelaide 2003, Durban 2010 have been fashioned by swing bowlers.
He had suggested that India should look to develop swing bowlers rather than looking for a genuine quick or a spinner. May be he is right. In Bhuvaneshwar, fans have all the reasons to get excited. As far as Dhoni is concerned, he is known to not speak in hyperbole while praising talent, which can only be good.
Dhoni injures right thumb
Practice sessions are becoming a bit too dangerous for India MS Dhoni. Just like the morning before the game in Ranchi, the India captain was hit on the thumb of his right hand while batting at the nets in Mohali last morning.
He was hit while he was facing former Indian fast bowler Manpreet Gony. Dhoni was in immense pain and was attended to by the team’s medical staff.
Dhoni did glove up again and face a few more balls and hit a couple of his typical aggressive shots but he cut short that sessions and went back to the dressing room.
The amount of discomfort he was in could be gauged from the fact that he even refused to sign an autograph citing the injured thumb. One could see that a blood clot has been formed on the nail. He, however, was confident of playing today’s game.
India: MS Dhoni, Gautam Gambhir, Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami Ahmed, Ishant Sharma
England: Alastair Cook, Ian Bell, Kevin Pietersen, Joe Root, Eoin Morgan, Samit Patel, Jos Buttler, Tim Bresnan, James Tredwell, Steven Finn, Stuart Meaker
• This will be the 18th day-nighter in Mohali. With this, the venue gets the distinction of hosting most daynighters in India. Bangalore’s M Chinnaswamy Stadium has hosted 17 daynight matches.
• MS Dhoni will be captaining India for the 50th time in an ODI on home soil. He will become only second player to do so after Mohammad Azharuddin, who led India in 58 matches
• Ravindra Jadeja needs 32 runs to complete 1000 ODI runs. He will complete the double of 1000 runs and 50 wickets as well. Jadeja will become the third quickest among Indians to accomplish this feat after Kapil Dev (46 mts) and Ravi Shastri (56 mts).
• Dhoni averages 101.90 in successful chases. One more not out innings in a successful chase and Dhoni will equal Jonty Rhodes’ ODI record of remaining not out on most occasions in successful chases.
• Yuvraj is 5 short of 150 sixes in ODIs. He will become the fourth Indian after Tendulka (195), Ganguly (190), Dhoni (152) to do so. - Rajneesh Gupta