Dubai: Bhubneshwar Kumar, India’s swing ace who had been out of the squad with a groin injury last December, feels it’s very important for a fast bowler not to try and rush his comeback from rehab after any form of injury.
‘Bhuvi,’ as the soft-spoken allrounder is nicknamed among his teammates, last represented India in the series-deciding third T20I against West Indies in Mumbai. He was also named to play the one-day series which followed against the same opponents but was replaced by Shardul Thakur due to the injury.
The new year had him working on regaining his strength and fitness with assistance of Team India physio Yogesh Parmar as the 30-year-old missed the limited-overs home series against Sri Lanka and Australia and then India’s full-fledged tour of New Zealand, where the conditions would have been perfect for his bowling. The attacking lynchpin of IPL franchise Sunrisers Hyderabad was recalled to the national squad for a white ball series against South Africa in March, but the series had to be called off at the eleventh hours over health concerns for the players during to the coronavirus pandemic.
‘‘Injuries are a part and parcel for the fast bowlers when you play in all three formats of the game. I have been bothered by a number of injuries over last one year and can tell you that it can be really frustrating. As you watch the matches on TV, it becomes difficult to miss out on the action but it’s very important not to rush to a comeback,’’ said Kumar, who has picked up 236 wickets across the formats for India so far.
Speaking at a freewheeling chat ‘Double Trouble,’ a Youtube programme hosted by top women’s cricketers Smriti Mandhana and Jemimah Rodrigues during the ongoing lockdown, Kumar said the presence of physical trainers and support staff, however, had been a great help for the fast bowlers in the national team on their road to recovery.
Ever since making his international debut in 2012, Kumar had been a fast learner of his craft and is one of the few bowlers in contemporary cricket who can move the ball on both sides. Asked how did he manage to achieve this consistency, the Meerut-born cricketer attributed it to rigorous practice in his earlier years. ‘‘Since I did not have a lot of pace, I always focused on line and length and the consistency also came naturally,’’ he said.
The only bowler to win two ‘Purple Caps’ in IPL (2016 & 2017), Bhuvi is known for his mastery in bowling the death overs in T20. ‘‘Variation is the key in such situations. The yorkers used to be a standard weapon in the last overs before but the batsmen have found out tools like the lap shot to counter it,’ he said.
What happens when even Bhubneshwar Kumar has an offday? ‘‘Yes, then even four overs in a T20 match does not seem to finish on those days,’’ said a candid Kumar.
Incidentally, Kumar, then only 19, became the first bowler to dismiss the legendary Sachin Tendulkar for a duck in domestic cricket in a Ranji Trophy game way back in 2009. ‘‘I think the credit should go to Mohammad Kaif, then my captain for UP. I bowled an inswinger and the fielder who took Sachin paaji’s catch off an inside edge of his bat was stationed at an unusual position between square leg and mid wicket,’’ Kumar recalled with a laugh.