India v Sri Lanka, Asia Cup, Mirpur March 3, 2016

MS Dhoni pleased with rejuvenated Bhuvneshwar


Bhuvneshwar Kumar sent down 20 dots and took two wickets during his outstanding spell of 4-2-8-2 © AFP

India's victory over UAE was set up by a pristine spell with the new ball by Bhuvneshwar Kumar. He was able to move it both ways, force the batsmen into their shell, and came away with two wickets and 20 dot balls out of his four overs.

Bhuvneshwar is well known for keeping it tight and providing India with early strikes, but in Mirpur he was able to showcase something else he had been working on. Pace. Several of his deliveries were clocked at 140 kph by the speed gun.

Bhuvneshwar had a tough limited-overs series against South Africa in October 2015. He had averaged 49.57 and his economy rate of 7.13 was the worst by a specialist bowler from either side. He conceded 106 runs off his 10 overs, the second-worst figures in an ODI, in the decider in Mumbai.

Since then, he played five List A games for Uttar Pradesh in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and finished with 10 wickets at 15.40 apiece and gave away an average of 3.27 runs per over. His 9-2-25-3 against Tamil Nadu in December 2015 nearly helped Uttar Pradesh defend 168 in the third quarter-final. That performance and his potential kept him in the side for India's tour to Australia, but when flat tracks were rolled out, he was picked for only two ODIs.

While Bhuvneshwar's 4-2-8-2 against UAE, a semi-professional team, whose batting line-up is still very unsure of their strengths, cannot be read into too much, India's captain MS Dhoni was pleased with what he saw.

"He is a hard-working guy," Dhoni said. "He always works hard in the nets and also in the gym and I feel that's something that is important for the fast bowlers, to keep themselves fit and also take the break in the best possible manner. That has actually helped him increase the pace but at the same time, it has not affected his swing bowling.

"That is key, because you don't want to bowl quick but lose that extra movement that you have. So that's a big positive sign for us. And when it comes to his consistency, he is still somebody who bowls very consistently with his line and length. So overall, he has used the break, whether it was forced or when he was out of the side in the best possible manner and also him coming good gives us that extra option in case Shami doesn't get fit, he's somebody who can straight away come in and start doing the work for the team."

UAE's captain Amjad Javed remained upbeat despite the defeat, which was their fourth on the trot in the main draw of the Asia Cup.

Javed reasoned that the effect of merely playing in a tournament along the biggest names in cricket would foster greater interest among the sports-watching public back home.

"When they will be seeing us playing India, their expectation will go sky high," Javed said. They want to become cricketers and follow us, they want to represent UAE; you can get a good cricketer from them.

"Now we should get more international matches, like Zimbabwe, Ireland, Bangladesh … these games will give us the experience of playing at that level. If at some stage in the future we can qualify for the Asia Cup again, it will be easier for us then. The team will have that sort of experience to compete with them."

Since Pakistan use the grounds in Sharjah, Dubai and Abu Dhabi as their base, Javed also suggested that international teams that tour the UAE should take the time to play against them as well.

"If ICC can really look into this - any team that now comes to Dubai - it's home for Pakistan," Javed said. "It will be good that any international teams that are coming there, they play one 50-over game and one T20 with us. That will be great experience for us and very good for UAE cricket."

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • sunder on March 5, 2016, 9:01 GMT

    guys please dont scold jadeja, even the other teams and pundits amazed abt his fielding ability!!! run outs can change flow of match drastically

  • jayaesh on March 4, 2016, 14:58 GMT

    @HADESLOGIC : IPL often finishes by mid May or max May End , so that leaves a good three months of County Cricket still available for Bhuvi or anyone else looking for a County stint, someone like Bhuvi can even take a month's break after IPL to rest his body and still play two months of County Cricket. Look if a cricketer wants it all that is to don India colours, play IPL then County then he better be prepared to slog it out plus how much toll bowling 4 overs that to in divided spells is not going to take on your body , sure there is lot of traveling involved in IPL but they get to fly First Class and stay in six star hotels, can't complain can't they ...

  • Venkat on March 4, 2016, 14:33 GMT

    One of Bhuvi's talents is how well he can (in batting) hold the lower order in test cricket. He has done better than a few "batsmen" in the last England tour in batting. He can form long partnerships in test cricket late innings with top or middle order batsmen. Makes a very good case for inclusion in test cricket when there is any assistance for swing.

  • Prasath on March 4, 2016, 10:47 GMT

    Rejuvenated Bhuvneshwar - come on give us a break after all he performed against UAE. He was good until few months ago but lost his rhythm. Top teams thrashed his bowling quite recently, he has no pace and has to improve his pace should play domestic cricket for a while, there are many young pacers knocking the door.

  • sree on March 4, 2016, 9:43 GMT

    Bhuvi back in swinging-form is certainly great news for India and Sunrisers Hyd. Bonus is he has added pace. India fast bowling stocks suddenly looking good with Nehra, Shammi, Bhuvi, Bumrah followed by Aron and Sran.

    SRH now really has a strong bowling attack with Bolt, Nehra, Bhuvi, supported by the likes of Karn Sharma, Yuvraj, Henriques and Sran.

  • sree on March 4, 2016, 9:13 GMT

    Unlike Rohits and Rainas, the very talented Bhuvaneshwar Kumar did not get similar support and hence dropped. Otherwise what a talent he was. A natural swinger of the ball who had the most attacking batsmen in control for a long period. No doubt his form dipped a bit last year and in Aus. But simultaneously he was working on pace and he seemed to do that with complete awareness. Usually Indian pacers start with pace and lose it later. But Bhuvi's increase in pace is extremely good for him as well as for team. He for sure is a class bowler. If he manages to swing around 140 then he will be lethal. Additionally he is no mug with the bat. He just needs someone in team to tell him that go out and enjoy your batting.

  • Kiran on March 4, 2016, 8:44 GMT

    I had posted multiple times about Bhuvi on these forums before and I repeat. In every aspect - Economy, Wickets and Average, Bhuvi is better than Shami in T20s. Anyone who has seen him bowl in the IPL in the death overs can easily make out that he has the maximum control of the yorker amongst all the Indian bowlers. He always bowls to a plan and makes it easier for the captain to set the field. He is easily easily better than Nehra. Nehra's career T20 economy is 8 while Bhuvi's is 6. It is a no-brainer when you also consider his better fielding and batting skills. About the only thing he lacks is playing for CSK. If Jadeja can stay in the team with so many failures I find no reason why Bhuvi cannot make it to the XI.

  • Cricinfouser on March 4, 2016, 8:27 GMT

    I have always been impressed by Bhuvi and it was sad to see him out of action for such a long time. Now that he has made a comeback of sorts, i hope dhoni suports and encourages him, the same was he supported dhawan and jadeja and gave them innumerable chances. Bhuvi has definitely earned the right to be given more than a handful to chances to prove himself.

  • Pony on March 4, 2016, 6:39 GMT

    Playing Shami in WC would be a disaster now even if he gets fit.He had no proper match practice for the last year.He must be replaced with Bhuvi.

  • Naresh on March 4, 2016, 5:46 GMT

    Bhuvi should be used in the shorter version games. Use bowlers with stamina and physique for longer version test matches. Bowlers like Ishant, Yadav, Sran, Shami for tests. Shami is best for all types.

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