Performances of Bhuvneshwar, Shami offer hope
Cricket : Pace duo needs to sustain focus to achieve bigger feats
The emergence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Shami Ahmed has come as a breath of fresh air, while giving a boost to the Indian bowling attack.
The Test series against England underscored the need for new talent in pace bowling department, and that was only accentuated by the injuriest to Umesh Yadav, Irfan Pathan and Varun Aaron.
In that context, the arrival of Bhuvneshwar and Shami couldn’t have been come at a better time, and the duo has impressed all in the chances they have received thus far.
Bhuvneshwar had impressed in the opening Ranji Trophy game for Uttara Pradesh against a star-laden Delhi a couple of months back, and a call for the Twenty20 game against Pakistan wasn’t much surprising.
He struck in his debut game at Bangalore taking three wickets for nine runs, swinging the ball to telling effect in favourable conditions. The performance earned him a place in the ODI series against Pakistan and England; his swing remaining a potent weapon.
Shami joined him in the last match against Pakistan, a dead rubber at Ferozeshah Kotla, and was impressive with his pace and tight line.
Though India lost the series, the rise of Bhuvneshwar and Shami was a positive to emerge from the series, offering hopes to fans and experts alike. Shami, who hails from Moradabad but plays for Bengal, is the quicker of the two and is seen as the one who could be an answer to India’s need for an effective reverse swing bowler.
Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been effusive in praising them but felt there were still a few things that needed to be considered before they could be drafted into the Test side.
They have been quite successful in conditions helpful for them so far, but the duo need to prove their wicket-taking ability on unhelpful tracks According to Sanjay Rastogi, Bhuvneshwar’s coach at Meerut, the young pacer can be devastating with his swing. “We knew accuracy was his strong point but he can be devastating if the pitch helps his style. He will be an asset when playing overseas,” Rastogi said.
Former Uttar Pradesh wicketkeeper-batsman Vipin Vats, who has worked with Bhuvaneshwar, was understandably impressed with his ward’s performance and emphasised he was ready to wear the whites for India. “He has got off to an excellent start and has got quality England and Pakistan batsmen out. He is a very focused boy whose priority at this stage is only cricket.
Even when he is back home from his matches, his mind is fixed on his bowling. He can perform with the bat as well. He had a hundred in Duleep Trophy, and at Dharamsala we got a peek into his batting talent when he made 31,” Vats said.
What if the conditions do no assist swing? “That should not be a problem,” Vats said. “In domestic cricket, there are such flat pitches that bowlers have little do. You learn to curtail the batsmen and that’s what he needs to do -- focus on line and length.”
Shami is quick and has been working on reverse swing. Former India batsman and current Bengal coach WV Raman said, “The good thing is that he has performed at every level he has been given the opportunity. He has shown the temperament. He does not get overawed by the situation.”
On what Shami needed to do, Raman observed, “He needs to develop the craft, and that he would do if the management keeps giving him chances. His pace has been noticed and he should not compromise on it at this stage at least. He should look to hit the deck. I feel he should speak to Wasim Akram, who is also with Kolkata Knight Riders. Imran Khan always told him (Akram) not to compromise on speed.”
Can Bhuvnesh and Shami serve India long? Only time will tell.