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

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

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  • Cricket 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.

  • shyam on March 3, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    i found him as one over rated bolwer...

  • RISHI 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...

  • Jay 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.

  • Ash on March 3, 2013, 2:49 GMT

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

  • John 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.

  • Prem 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.

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

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

  • Naresh 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.

  • Alex 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

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