Team India is set to take on New Zealand in the first World Test Championship (WTC) in England, but one name is missing from the list of the 24-member strong contingent: pacer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
Speculations are rife that the Meerut-based cricketer, who is India’s most successful bowler in England, doesn’t have the drive to continue playing Test cricket. The Times of India quoted unknown sources to claim he is “focusing on the next T20 opportunities coming up”.
Bhuvaneshwar himself has rubbished any such claim. The 31-year-old pacer tweeted later in the day, saying: “There have been articles about me not wanting to play Test cricket. Just to clarify, I have always prepared myself for all three formats irrespective of the team selection and will continue to do the same. Suggestion – please don’t write your assumptions based on “sources”!
“Those who have seen him from close insist he brought in a huge change in his work-drills a couple of seasons ago, doing away with heavy weight training, falling to the lure of the white-ball comfort and avoiding those hours of long spells that are so integral to red-ball cricket,” The Times of India stated quoting people who are tracking Bhuvaneshwar’s career.
The Indian line up may boast of bowlers of the likes of Jaspreet Bumrah, Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Sami and others, but when it comes to swinging the bowl big time, no one can match Bhuvi. His record speaks volumes of his talent and the value that his presence could have added to the Indian team, which plays a full-fledged Test series with England after the WTC final, which starts at the Rose Bowl in Southampton from June 18.
Bhuvi’s career best 6/82 came at Lord’s against England in 2014. His tally of 19 wickets in the 2014 series was the best by an Indian in England.
In the absence of Bhuvi, the pressure will be on Ishant, Sami and, of course, Bumrah. But what is the trio fails to deliver? Umesh Yadav has not been very consistent and reliable while Shardul Thakur and Mohammed Siraj are new and the pressure of bowling to England in England (during the Test series) may be too much for them to handle. Under these circumstances, Bhuvaneshwar could have proved the best swing bowler for captain Virat Kohli to win the first World Test Championship against the Kiwis and later disallow the host country to seek revenge of their latest defeat.