India v Australia, 2nd Test, Hyderabad, 1st day March 2, 2013

Bhuvneshwar keeps to the straight and narrow

India's dominance on the first day of the second Test in Hyderabad was built on an incisive opening spell from medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar
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India's day, three wickets to their support spinner and allrounder, and much wispy, alluring turn past the bat. Was Hyderabad going to be another Chennai? Not so.

At the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium in suburban Hyderabad, two slips and a gully could be sighted at the start of play and India's earliest advances in the second Test against Australia, came from a medium pacer who had not bowled at all in the second innings in Chennai.

On Saturday, Bhuvneshwar Kumar opened the bowling for India in his second Test. In an extended first spell he lopped the top off the Australian batting order. David Warner, Ed Cowan and the dangerous Shane Watson were all gone by the time Bhuvneshwar ended his nine overs with 3 for 36.

Australia's final session blancmange-wobble had five wickets falling for 28 runs to the spinners, but Bhuvneshwar triggered it. Just when the Australians had settled down with a century partnership between the perpetual rescuer Michael Clarke and wicketkeeper Matthew Wade, Bhuvneshwar dived to his left to interrupt a Wade cut off Harbhajan Singh. Then came Australia's implosion and Clarke's dramatic declaration just before stumps.

Bright-eyed and spindly, with an action that unfolds in clean-limbed lines, Bhuvneshwar is every bit the contemporary Indian medium-pacer. Swing, movement off the seam and discipline over raw speed is his staple. Bowling in the region of 130-135kph, he was able to hit the seam to deck the ball in and asked annoying questions of the left-hand openers. Warner's leg stump was knocked out of the ground off an inside edge in Bhuvneshwar's second over, as the ball looked to be angling across the batsman but straightened and nipped the bat.

Six balls later Bhuvneshwar's dismissal of Cowan came off an iffy lbw because the ball had pitched outside leg, but there was no doubting the fact that it had once again come into the batsman and would have hit his stumps.

Watson was far more surefooted and clear-sighted than the batsmen before him, for more than 45 minutes. In his eighth over, Bhuvneshwar had been spanked for two boundaries as Watson tried to dominate territory and punish weariness into disarray. Bhuvneshwar had gone for 18 runs in the 25 balls he had bowled to Watson. When a juicy short ball in the mid-120kph turned up, Watson pounced and jumped into the pull. The ball didn't bounce as high as expected and struck him on the pad and Australia were 57 for 3 in just over an hour of play.

Hyderabad offered conditions of the kind Bhuvneshwar has plied his stuff in for the last six years of first-class cricket for Uttar Pradesh, taking 149 wickets at 26.36. The days are hot and the wickets slow and abrasive. They require steadfastness, precision and a willingness to absorb punishment, yet rein in flamboyance even when receiving any benefits.

After cleaning up the Australian top order before lunch, questions were asked why Bhuvneshwar was not given a spell after the break. As had happened to R Ashwin, who had taken the fourth wicket in the first session. The television chatterati wondered about it as the Clarke-Wade partnership grew, but once the Australian innings folded, all debate melted. Bhuvneshwar bowled two short three-over spells as Jadeja and Harbhajan ran rings around the batsmen.

What Bhuvneshwar was able to do with his bowling was raise a metaphorical hand to selectors looking for a wicket-taking bowler at home, who can bowl with steady unwavering pace and control at the stumps. You miss, he hits, either bowled or leg before. He comes, like so many Indian cricketers now do, from the hinterlands. Bhuvneshwar's hinterland is Meerut in western UP, better known as the badlands of India's most populous state.

Until now, he was only regarded as a new option for India in T20s and ODIs, starting with his 3 for 9 on Twenty20 debut against Pakistan. According to his UP coach Venkatesh Prasad, Bhuvneshwar is a man for the longer form. "I have always said he needs to be tried out in Test matches. He can be an ideal third bowler or even second bowler for India where conditions help his type of bowling."

Bhuvneshwar plays for the Pune Warriors IPL franchise and, after his first season, he was asked about tips received from Allan Donald and Michael Clarke, the giants in his Warriors dressing room. His answer was simple: the one cricketer he paid attention and listened to was Praveen Kumar, fellow UP allrounder, swing wizard and his opening partner at Meerut's Victoria Club.

If the series against Australia helps Bhuvneshwar cement his place in the Test squad, it will place on a young medium pacer's body the burden and demands of playing all three formats. Prasad, a former bowling coach with the Indian team, said the team management must help him to "manage his time, his training and his lifestyle." For the moment, the Australian batsmen must find a way to handle him.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • itsthewayuplay on March 3, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    @ davidpk you're right india has quite a few bowlers at that speed who only know how to swing the ball. Where BK is different is that he can also cuts the ball both ways of the seam and shown real intelligence in all 3 formats in his fledging career so far eg i've seen him set up batsmen with 3 / 4 consecutive outswingers and then get them with one that come backs in off the seam. Unlike say Praveen Kumar who bowled with so much heart in England and swung the ball more than Anderson but his lack of pace means batsmen can negate the swing by standing well outside the crease. The challenge for BK will come when batsmen see more of him and come up of ways to counter him but the ability to more the ball off the seam as well as through the air is currently making up for his lack of pace.

  • matchfixerpkn on March 3, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    i found him as one over rated bolwer...

  • RISHI2016 on March 3, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    he is a complete player, a good inswinger (though his away delivery is equally lethal) and good bouncer as well... he has very good batting technique and a good fielder... only concern is his speed which we all know ... perhaps aaron and yadav with speed and bhuvi could be good bet...

  • NairUSA on March 3, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    Beekay represents India's ideal version of fast bowling. Medium pace, swing, control and lots of intelligence. If India had more bowlers having these attributes, our new ball bowling would have been far more effective. But alas, barring a few,most medium pacers that we had in the past few years were either tired or not ready for that extra hard work. It will be best for India to give more opportunities for young medium pacers who are enthusiastic and willing to go that extra mile to make the difference. After all, we cannot always depend on our spinners when we play in those swinging and pacy pitches abroad.

  • ozwriter on March 3, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    he played well, especially as an indian seamer, lets see if the aussie boys can match him

  • jmcilhinney on March 3, 2013, 2:01 GMT

    Well bowled by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar but I have to feel a little for Cowan. When you're under pressure for your place in the team, the last thing you need is to be given out when you're not out. His own form and that of the team suggests that he wouldn't have done much better anyway but Wade performed better than many expected so you never know. Whether or not such decisions even out for the teams, that doesn't help Cowan at all.

  • pr3m on March 2, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    Why is everybody going gaga over this kid? He's only a new ball bowler and has yet to prove anything with the old ball. This is India, remember? We'r gonna be bowling for 150 odd overs every innings as soon as the pitch stops being assistant. The Aussie batsman have done well to prevent that situation in this series so far, but bigger challenges are to come. I don't think he's the answer India is looking for, long term, but like Jadeja, I'll make my peace with him playing Tests while in India.

  • USIndianFan on March 2, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    Hmm. 2 takeaways. Ishant did not bowl all that bad and guess what Bhajji took some wickets!

  • Naresh28 on March 2, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    The Sreesanth we lost in test cricket is the Bhuvi we have found. When we go overseas we need Bhuvi, Umesh, and Aaron. Ishant has a problem in that at his height he has not found what length to bowl. He might hit once in awhile but should learn from this.

  • Alexk400 on March 2, 2013, 21:32 GMT

    His speed is too slow for me to pick him in TEST. He either has to pick up speed or become one of the long line of indian bowlers who bowled well inf irst few test and do a disappearing act

  • itsthewayuplay on March 3, 2013, 10:56 GMT

    @ davidpk you're right india has quite a few bowlers at that speed who only know how to swing the ball. Where BK is different is that he can also cuts the ball both ways of the seam and shown real intelligence in all 3 formats in his fledging career so far eg i've seen him set up batsmen with 3 / 4 consecutive outswingers and then get them with one that come backs in off the seam. Unlike say Praveen Kumar who bowled with so much heart in England and swung the ball more than Anderson but his lack of pace means batsmen can negate the swing by standing well outside the crease. The challenge for BK will come when batsmen see more of him and come up of ways to counter him but the ability to more the ball off the seam as well as through the air is currently making up for his lack of pace.

  • matchfixerpkn on March 3, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    i found him as one over rated bolwer...

  • RISHI2016 on March 3, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    he is a complete player, a good inswinger (though his away delivery is equally lethal) and good bouncer as well... he has very good batting technique and a good fielder... only concern is his speed which we all know ... perhaps aaron and yadav with speed and bhuvi could be good bet...

  • NairUSA on March 3, 2013, 3:57 GMT

    Beekay represents India's ideal version of fast bowling. Medium pace, swing, control and lots of intelligence. If India had more bowlers having these attributes, our new ball bowling would have been far more effective. But alas, barring a few,most medium pacers that we had in the past few years were either tired or not ready for that extra hard work. It will be best for India to give more opportunities for young medium pacers who are enthusiastic and willing to go that extra mile to make the difference. After all, we cannot always depend on our spinners when we play in those swinging and pacy pitches abroad.

  • ozwriter on March 3, 2013, 2:49 GMT

    he played well, especially as an indian seamer, lets see if the aussie boys can match him

  • jmcilhinney on March 3, 2013, 2:01 GMT

    Well bowled by Bhuvaneshwar Kumar but I have to feel a little for Cowan. When you're under pressure for your place in the team, the last thing you need is to be given out when you're not out. His own form and that of the team suggests that he wouldn't have done much better anyway but Wade performed better than many expected so you never know. Whether or not such decisions even out for the teams, that doesn't help Cowan at all.

  • pr3m on March 2, 2013, 23:00 GMT

    Why is everybody going gaga over this kid? He's only a new ball bowler and has yet to prove anything with the old ball. This is India, remember? We'r gonna be bowling for 150 odd overs every innings as soon as the pitch stops being assistant. The Aussie batsman have done well to prevent that situation in this series so far, but bigger challenges are to come. I don't think he's the answer India is looking for, long term, but like Jadeja, I'll make my peace with him playing Tests while in India.

  • USIndianFan on March 2, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    Hmm. 2 takeaways. Ishant did not bowl all that bad and guess what Bhajji took some wickets!

  • Naresh28 on March 2, 2013, 21:59 GMT

    The Sreesanth we lost in test cricket is the Bhuvi we have found. When we go overseas we need Bhuvi, Umesh, and Aaron. Ishant has a problem in that at his height he has not found what length to bowl. He might hit once in awhile but should learn from this.

  • Alexk400 on March 2, 2013, 21:32 GMT

    His speed is too slow for me to pick him in TEST. He either has to pick up speed or become one of the long line of indian bowlers who bowled well inf irst few test and do a disappearing act

  • bumsonseats on March 2, 2013, 21:02 GMT

    i would have thought india have many similar bowlers of that speed and a slight in build,but he bowled well against eng in the short form of the game

  • crindo77 on March 2, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    Ishant Sharma is the ceremonial pace spearhead; medium predictable pace, no swing, zero venom and worst, no control. His fielding is awkward, he is fast becoming a liability. We in India are enamoured of tall fast bowlers, but since his breakthrough spell in Oz 6 years ago, and some middling performances in between, its been disappointing for far too long. Admitted he has had injuries, but Ishant has had enough time and chances. Time to move on.

  • baskar_guha on March 2, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    What I like most about BK is his attitude - with the bat, ball and while fielding. Give a team more players like that and they will find a way to compete.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 2, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    He's proved himself better than any of the Australian seamers, well bowled today Mr Kumar.

  • on March 2, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    If he can bowl consistently at 135+, this amount of swing will do the rest. He will have a bright future in test cricket. Only thing is he has to step up from 128-132 to 133-135.

  • avmd on March 2, 2013, 18:52 GMT

    I'm a Pak team supporter and am happy for Indians for unearthing a very talented, bowling allrounder. Yes, he has also impressed me with his batting temprament and skill. Not only he is skillful, he is also a very intelligent bowler and knows his limits and reads the batsman well. He will have few "dry matches" particularly in Indian wickets but selectors needs to persist with him. He is still "work in progress" and a stint in county cricket will be very helpful. My biggest concer for him is IPL. Its not realistic for him to skip IPL, considering the money he can make there but hopefully he will not learn any bad happits in IPL. He is a wicket taking and not a containing bowler.

  • PPD123 on March 2, 2013, 18:32 GMT

    With the performanes Bhuvneshwar is giving, wonder what Ishant sharma would be thinking. I personally feel he is over rated. Ishant has played close to 50 tests for India and is averaging close to 40. Unacceptable. I hope the Selectors realize that he is another Mohd Sami in the making, the quicker they ship him out of the team, the better it will be for India. Forget wkt taking, I mean if the guy can get his line and lenght right, what can Dhoni expect from him as a capt? Just beats me that ishant cant get his lengths fuller to get those edges thru. Shame. I feel for SA/Eng/NZ, Ind shud select select Bhuvaneshwar, shami Ahmed, and injury permitting - Umesh Yadav/ Varun Aaron/Sreeshanth. Enough with Ishant.

  • Sir.Ivor on March 2, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    He could just be India's Vernon Philander. They bowl at almost the same pace and are accurate. They have shown that 135 knmph is all the pace one needs to make batsmen look like bunnies. Under Venkatesh Prasad's guidance and Praveen's advice Bhuvi can be the match winner India has not had after Irfan Pathan lost his way. In south Africa if India has Yadav, Ishant,Aaron Shami and Bhuvi, it will be a great fight.

  • MunafAhmed811 on March 2, 2013, 17:34 GMT

    If and if only ,we had Bhuvneshwar ,Shami and dhawal kulkarni selected together when we tour NZ, England,SA...i can bet we can draw the series if not win it......but uselss players like ishant, harbhajan, chawala will be selected instead

  • phunny_game on March 2, 2013, 17:19 GMT

    If he, Umesh,and Zaheer can bowl in SA, India has a chance to atleast win a test... But it is unlikely as Zaheer is neither fit nor in form... But Umesh and BK can make a good new ball pair... As far as swing is concerned, he can certainly match philander... Just the control is missing. Even today, he invariably bowled a delivery on the leg or wide and just short every over... If he can bowl six good balls an over, he will surely be a potent weapon in SA...

  • JohnnyRook on March 2, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1 and Angry_Bowler. Ishant Sharma is not that bad when yoou look at him in comparison with other contenders. But he has to pitch it up. He over-relies on his height and tries to extract that couple of inches of extra bounce just too many times.There is no way he is going to get wickets with his back of the length deliveries on Indian pitches or for that matter on foreign pitches unless he can pump it up to 140-145 kmps. Bhuvi got wickets because of his swing and the key to the swing is to pitch it up even if the batsman hits a couple of cover drives. It is a shame that the same Duncan Fletcher who got so much output from English bowlers in 2005 Ashes is failing so miserably in India.

  • Sathish.Velu on March 2, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    B kumar is a fine and clever lad, he will do wonders in the near future and he is the solution for India's long time problem (A wicket Taking bowler), he takes the wicket so early, hope he learns the reverse swing and Yorkers to counter his old ball problems, and if he develops his physique and if he increases his speed a little bit, then he will be deadly dangerous in any country, hope he gets groomed well, B kumar, please dont take any tips from V Prasad or Ishant Sharma, it might end your bowling career, B kumar (A perfect All rounder in the Making)

  • Unmesh_cric on March 2, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    In some ways, Bhuvaneshwar is a replica of another Kumar- Praveen Kumar, but is slightly faster than his senior state mate. Both these guys are good at swinging the ball both ways. I am glad that he has listened and paid attention to Praveen. I have no doubt that Bhuvi will do well for India. He will always be amongst the wickets because of his line and amount of swing he gets. At the same time, I am a bit worried about Ishant especially on Indian wickets. I am not sure his short-of-lenght outside off-stump bowling is suited to Indian conditions. He should bowl a bit fuller and bowl straight in these conditions. This will bring the lbw and bowled dismissals into play since the ball generally tends to keep low.

  • on March 2, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    i want to see praveen kumar, bhuvneshwar kumar and Irfan pathan as the new pace attack for India in the upcoming series.....

  • agarkarno1 on March 2, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    He could have got a five-for if he was given more overs... But fine, his main strengths are his swing, seam, accuracy and he can make the batsmen to be always alert with his nipping deliveries. He reminds me of Agarkar, but i also could see him having better control than Agarkar. He can control the swing much better especially the inswinger. Overall its good to see an young fast bowler emerging. But I pray he should not become another Irfan,Praveen, RP, Munaf, Sreesanth etc. Would be great if he could become another Zaheer...!

  • Rooto on March 2, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    Now we've let Chaminda Vaas go, I'd love him to come to Northamptonshire in the summer. Any county team would fancy such a disciplined bowler.

  • Angry_Bowler on March 2, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Good one, however the pitch looks slower side, let see how low and turning it will become. By the way what Sharma is doing, no wicket on first day, I don't think he will get any in the second innings either.

  • Ashishreddy1994 on March 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    The way he presents seam is perfect and the way it is he is bright potential to Indian team I would like to see whether he can reverse the old ball at his pace

  • Al_Bundy1 on March 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    Bhuvi is a good find for India. But the real question is why do Indian Selectors keep selecting Ishant Sharma?? He is not "unlucky", he is mediocre. We have half a dozen youngsters who can bowl better than him. Shami Ahmed, Ishwar Pandey, Sandeep Sharma, Sandeep Warrier, Imtiaz Ahmed, Awana, etc are all better than Ishant.

  • Rugsy on March 2, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Well said Sharda. Kumar needs to be nurtured for the future. He has the subtlety and movement that can trouble the best in the world if he is used intelligently. The session between lunch and tea simply screamed for him to have a go, but MS thought differently, although I was also screaming before the TV.

    Incidentally, I just loved the phrase "Australia's final session blancmange-wobble....." Pure jelly, those guys were.

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  • Rugsy on March 2, 2013, 15:47 GMT

    Well said Sharda. Kumar needs to be nurtured for the future. He has the subtlety and movement that can trouble the best in the world if he is used intelligently. The session between lunch and tea simply screamed for him to have a go, but MS thought differently, although I was also screaming before the TV.

    Incidentally, I just loved the phrase "Australia's final session blancmange-wobble....." Pure jelly, those guys were.

  • Al_Bundy1 on March 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    Bhuvi is a good find for India. But the real question is why do Indian Selectors keep selecting Ishant Sharma?? He is not "unlucky", he is mediocre. We have half a dozen youngsters who can bowl better than him. Shami Ahmed, Ishwar Pandey, Sandeep Sharma, Sandeep Warrier, Imtiaz Ahmed, Awana, etc are all better than Ishant.

  • Ashishreddy1994 on March 2, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    The way he presents seam is perfect and the way it is he is bright potential to Indian team I would like to see whether he can reverse the old ball at his pace

  • Angry_Bowler on March 2, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Good one, however the pitch looks slower side, let see how low and turning it will become. By the way what Sharma is doing, no wicket on first day, I don't think he will get any in the second innings either.

  • Rooto on March 2, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    Now we've let Chaminda Vaas go, I'd love him to come to Northamptonshire in the summer. Any county team would fancy such a disciplined bowler.

  • agarkarno1 on March 2, 2013, 16:06 GMT

    He could have got a five-for if he was given more overs... But fine, his main strengths are his swing, seam, accuracy and he can make the batsmen to be always alert with his nipping deliveries. He reminds me of Agarkar, but i also could see him having better control than Agarkar. He can control the swing much better especially the inswinger. Overall its good to see an young fast bowler emerging. But I pray he should not become another Irfan,Praveen, RP, Munaf, Sreesanth etc. Would be great if he could become another Zaheer...!

  • on March 2, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    i want to see praveen kumar, bhuvneshwar kumar and Irfan pathan as the new pace attack for India in the upcoming series.....

  • Unmesh_cric on March 2, 2013, 16:37 GMT

    In some ways, Bhuvaneshwar is a replica of another Kumar- Praveen Kumar, but is slightly faster than his senior state mate. Both these guys are good at swinging the ball both ways. I am glad that he has listened and paid attention to Praveen. I have no doubt that Bhuvi will do well for India. He will always be amongst the wickets because of his line and amount of swing he gets. At the same time, I am a bit worried about Ishant especially on Indian wickets. I am not sure his short-of-lenght outside off-stump bowling is suited to Indian conditions. He should bowl a bit fuller and bowl straight in these conditions. This will bring the lbw and bowled dismissals into play since the ball generally tends to keep low.

  • Sathish.Velu on March 2, 2013, 17:02 GMT

    B kumar is a fine and clever lad, he will do wonders in the near future and he is the solution for India's long time problem (A wicket Taking bowler), he takes the wicket so early, hope he learns the reverse swing and Yorkers to counter his old ball problems, and if he develops his physique and if he increases his speed a little bit, then he will be deadly dangerous in any country, hope he gets groomed well, B kumar, please dont take any tips from V Prasad or Ishant Sharma, it might end your bowling career, B kumar (A perfect All rounder in the Making)

  • JohnnyRook on March 2, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    @Al_Bundy1 and Angry_Bowler. Ishant Sharma is not that bad when yoou look at him in comparison with other contenders. But he has to pitch it up. He over-relies on his height and tries to extract that couple of inches of extra bounce just too many times.There is no way he is going to get wickets with his back of the length deliveries on Indian pitches or for that matter on foreign pitches unless he can pump it up to 140-145 kmps. Bhuvi got wickets because of his swing and the key to the swing is to pitch it up even if the batsman hits a couple of cover drives. It is a shame that the same Duncan Fletcher who got so much output from English bowlers in 2005 Ashes is failing so miserably in India.