Eng vs Ind, T20Is 2022: Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Powerplay Punter & Exponent of the ‘Art of Swing’
England vs India, T20Is 2022: Bhuvneshwar Kumar has got two back-to-back player of the series in T20I.
Since making a comeback into the team after his injury layoff, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been deadly for India in the shortest format of the game. He is someone who never tries to cross the 140 kmph mark which has become a special quality to have as a bowler of late, depending mostly on swing.
Bhuvi doesn’t try to bowl in those funky areas rather he is someone who believes in consistently hitting the correct line and length, ball after ball. However, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who in his 68 T20I games for the Men in Blue has scalped 67 wickets at an average of 23.31 and economy of 6.92, is a very cunning and accurate bowler.
Getting back to form erasing the spectre of off-days
During the last edition of ICC World T20, Kumar was a bit cold due to his poor form. At the age of 31, with all those stiff back issues, hamstring and groin injuries, Bhuvneshwar was left out of the Sunrisers Hyderabad squad before the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2022 auction for finishing with just six wickets from 11 games at an economy of 7.97 in IPL 2021.
“Of course, when you are out of the game, you are never confident,” Bhuvneshwar Kumar conveyed. “I was backed by the captain and coach; it feels good to come good on that backing and playing for India again.”
Bhuvneshwar Kumar – Powerplay Punter
It’s a blessing as a captain to have bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the bank who can make a serious impact with the ball in the powerplay taking huge wickets. If there is some sort of support of the pitch, Bhuvi will just exploit it in the best rhythm.
But even if the ball swings, as a bowler to be successful, it requires huge amount of control to bowl in the right areas of the 22 yards to exact swing from the turf and that comes with experience.
“If it swings, which is my strength, I can get on to the attack; both these matches (the first and second T20I against England), the ball has swung and I was able to play to my strengths,” Bhuvneshwar, who since the home Sri Lanka series in March has 10 powerplay wickets at an economy under 5, noted.
“You have to control the urge and bowl consistently in one line and work on stetting the batters up,” he added.
Due to the fact that Bhuvi is picking up vital wickets at the top besides not letting the opponents going off to a flyer, the other main bowlers like Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel can come in the middle overs to dry up the runs. Otherwise, all those plans of keeping their overs at the back end will go for a toss.
It's almost the same way how Deepak Chahar is used by MS Dhoni for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the IPL and if one goes back in time, in the prime of Bhuvi, Dhoni too used to bowl at least three of Bhuvi’s overs upfront in the powerplay in T20Is for India.
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The home series against South Africa - Bhuvi blew away the Proteas
In the home T20I series against South Africa just after IPL 2022, fans saw Bhuvneshwar Kumar in his prime, with the Player of the Series award for taking six wickets in four games. Four out of his six wickets were scalped in the powerplay overs, conceding runs at an economy of just 3.56.
In the second game in Cuttack, the pitch was two-paced with little bit of swing on offer and Kumar provided India a real chance to defend a low score with a spell of 3/10 in three overs.
“Bhuvi was special in the whole series,” the head coach of the Proteas, Mark Butcher praised. “He puts us under pressure in the powerplay throughout.”
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England openers had no answer to Bhuvneshwar in the first two T20Is
Even in the past, England’s openers had their own problems playing against Bhuvneshwar. And they were required to face him in Southampton where the pitch presented some early swing.
Jason Roy couldn’t even lay down his bat to an array of outswingers against Bhuvi. Sure enough, Bhuvi cleaned up Jos Buttler with a vicious delivery which started one foot outside the off stump and swung like an arrow to castle the new England captain for a duck. Buttler was in exceptional form in the recently concluded IPL with 863 runs in 17 matches.
In the next game at Edgbaston, Roy nicked one of Bhuvi outswingers to the first slip in the very first ball of the innings; it was the 14th time Bhuvi earned a T20I wicket in the first over for India.
In Bhuvi’s next over, Buttler departed after edging Bhuvneshwar Kumar on 4; this was the fifth time in T20Is and twice in back-to-back games in the series, Buttler was undone off Bhuvi scoring at a strike rate of just 93.8 in 32 balls.
Kumar now has 36 wickets of the openers in T20Is, only behind Tim Southee who has 38 T20I openers in his bag. He also became the first bowler in T20I history to bowl 500 dot balls inside the powerplay.
“I’ve been here quite a few times but it didn’t swing in the last few series I’ve played here,” Bhuvi, who won a second straight Player of the Series award, expressed.
Bhuvneshwat Kumar was named Player of the Series for his four wickets at an average of 6.25 and economy 4.16.
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The importance of having an in form Bhuvi in India’s squad for World T20 2022 in Australia
Without a shadow of doubt, the rhythm of Bhuvneshwar Kumar before the upcoming ICC World T20 2022 in Australia, will decide the fate of India in the tournament.
The bounce and seam movement even in the T20 games can be a huge incentive given Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s sheer class and pure accuracy. And even if he doesn’t pick up early wickets, he can dry up the runs and deny the opponents to go off to a flyer in the first six overs.
India will play their next T20I series against West Indies in the Caribbean where the first of the five-match T20I series will be played on July 29 at the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba, San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago.
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