Bhuvneshwar thanks Praveen's advice
They could be twins. They amble up off a small run, keep the seam upright, use the wrist, swing the ball each way, were born in Meerut, play for Uttar Pradesh, love bowling in England, and are handy batsmen lower down the order. Except Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the calmer, more subdued, version of Praveen Kumar. On a day that Bhuvneshwar kept India in the Test with 4 for 46 in 23 testing overs, he acknowledged Praveen's contribution to his success.
The last time India came to England, Praveen was India's most effective bowler on a horror tour. It was only natural that before embarking on this journey, Bhuvneshwar gave Praveen a call, who is sidelined now for what seems forever.
"Praveen Kumar is my idol and I have watched him a lot," Bhuvneshwar said. "I had a talk with him before I came here. He is like a big brother for me, and we play together for the same team. He still helps me with my bowling."
Praveen would only have reinforced Bhuvneshwar's basics: bowl at the stumps, bowl full, let the pitch and the atmosphere in England take full effect. With assistance from the other two quicks and despite a wicketkeeping slip letting Gary Ballance score a hundred, India put together a quite excellent day in the field: bowling with discipline, moving the ball, not letting England get away.
When asked if this was the best bowling day with spinners not involved in it that he had been part of, Bhuvneshwar responded in affirmative.
"The wicket became a bit easier for batsmen after the first session," Bhuvneshwar said. "We bowled in the right areas and kept them quiet. We did well to keep Ballance quiet, even his hundred was not an easy one. We didn't give any easy runs."
The jury might still be out on which of the Kumars is a better bowler, but Bhuvneshwar has already shown better batting technique and temperament than Praveen. With two fifties in the first Test and 36 important runs here, Bhuvneshwar is leading not only India's bowling but batting averages too.
"I have been enjoying batting in England," Bhuvneshwar said. "The partnership with Ajinkya was really satisfying. The ball was moving around, and we were in a bad situation, had lost seven wickets. So, from that point of view, it was a good effort and I think a better effort than in the first Test."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo