Praveen underlines his worth

Praveen underlines his worth

Praveen underlines his worth

Praveen Kumar

If the West Indies series, where he grabbed 12 wickets from three Tests, was a pre-cursor to his abilities, England may well establish him as a quality Test bowler. The commentators and the English batsmen couldn’t praise the right-arm quick more for his bag of tricks as he claimed his maiden five-wicket haul. His perfect seam position and his ability to bring the ball back into left-handers at sun-kissed Lord’s were simply the stuff of an intelligent craftsman.    

Even on the opening day, Praveen got the ball to swing but he didn’t find the right length to trouble the batsmen. The next day, however, he had come well prepared, having worked out the correct length. Yet, for the first 10 overs, England batsmen were hardly troubled. It wasn’t until Dhoni changed the ends that the 24-year-old tasted the blood removing Jonathan Trott with an inswinging delivery.

The slope from the Pavillion End had left Praveen surprised on the opening day but he made necessary adjustments. “Intiially I felt the slope was little strange, but bowling on the practice pitch in the last two days made me get used to it,” he pointed out.  

Even as Kevin Pietersen led the English charge with an unbeaten double ton, it was Praveen who kept India in the race with wickets at regular intervals. In the injury-forced absence of Zaheer Khan, someone needed to come up with a dream spell. Given his experience Harbhajan Singh would have been the favourite to do so, but he never looked like getting amongst wickets. On the evidence of his impressive run in the Caribbean, you could’ve backed Ishant Sharma to step up, but he couldn’t find his rhythm. In the event, it was Praveen, who wasn’t even a certainty to be in the starting 11, who bailed the visitors out with a dream spell.

“It is everyone’s dream to play here (Lord’s) because the atmosphere is good and the weather was good. It felt good,” noted Praveen of his bowling on Friday.

The paceman bowled more than 40 overs, including 24 on the second day, for his 5/106 and went about his job uncomplainingly. “I have bowled 35-40 overs in the domestic cricket. In the absence of Zaheer bhai, one or two bowlers had to take the onus. It was not a question of pressure (in Zaheer’s absence) but of motivating yourself to rise to the occasion,” he reasoned.  

Praveen’s State-mate Rudra Pratap Singh bowled his way into Lord’s Honours Boards with a five-wicket haul when India visited here last time. After showing such great promise, the Uttar Pradesh bowler gradually faded out of national scene, now largely making waves in the annual Indian Premier League.

India wouldn’t want to see Praveen go the RP Singh way because fast bowlers are a precious commodity in India.