A fast bowler’s life is not easy; it demands horse like stamina and accuracy. A slight dip in form and precision results in the ouster from the side, hence he needs to keep up with the race and stay ahead. In a format like Twenty20 (T20), a fast bowler can’t afford to step a foot wrong, for the fact that he might be taken for runs. Achieving success in this format demands continuous observation and enhancement along with some canny improvisations. Something, which the wily right-arm pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar has done really well in the recent times.

A few years back, one could have easily said that pace is not Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s forte but swing is. But, the scenario doesn’t exist anymore. Bhuvneshwar has added some pace to his bowling, which is enough to threaten the best in the business at the crease. The purple cap holder, an honor for picking most wickets, in the ongoing Indian Premier League, Bhuvneshwar has unarguably been the best in the business when it came to pace bowling. Not just putting in the hard yards with the new ball. Bhuvneshwar has been equally effective in the death overs as well.

Bhuvneshwar is widely reckoned for his exploits with the new, which he gets to move both the ways and often holds its line. He can make the new ball talk and has bagged numerous wickets in the power play overs. He was one of the chief architects behind Sunrisers Hyderabad successful campaign in the previous edition with 23 wickets in his basket.

And this year has been no different; in fact, he has been a step ahead this season. In 10 games so far, Bhuvneshwar has already scalped 21 wickets at a staggering average of 12.61. An economy of fewer than 8 in T20s is considered to be outstanding for bowlers in contemporary cricket. And, Bhuvneshwar hails of on economy of 6.62 in the season so far, along with a match-winning five-wicket haul against Kings XI Punjab.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar in action. Image Courtesy: Cricinfo

Bhuvneshwar is a canny customer, often keeps his cool at the crease while putting in the hard yards. Most of the fast bowlers are livid after being hit for a boundary but that is not the scene with Bhuvneshwar. Although, he might be fuming inside but his body language doesn’t suggest so. He keeps it cool and operates with utter calmness in crunch situations, a quality which stands him out.

Death bowling is no less than a herculean task in T20 cricket. With the king-sized bats and shorter boundaries coming into play, bowling in the death is no less than entering a lion’s den. But Bhuvneshwar has often returned unscathed. He has developed as a death bowler, a skill which has attracted enormous eyeballs. A few years back, Bhuvneshwar was not someone who could be very effective in the death overs. But he has got over that barrier and worked on the art of beautiful art of bowling Yorkers on a regular basis. His accuracy and expertise to execute deadly Yorkers at will have made him a force to reckon with. This massive improvement is also a sign of a champion, which Bhuvneshwar certainly is.

One of his best bowling performances this season came against KXIP at home. While defending a modest target of 160, Sunrisers Hyderabad required early wickets, which was rightly provided by Bhuvneshwar. But Manan Vohra played an innings of his life and almost carried his team over the line with his power-hitting. On a pitch, where his imminent peers struggled, Vohra looked in the different zone altogether. He was batting on 95 when KXIP needed more 15 runs from 10 deliveries – a task easily attainable with a hard-hitting Vohra at the crease. Bhuvneshwar after Mohit Sharma in his previous over (16th) and KC Cariappa on the first delivery steamed in once again and caught Vohra leg before on the third. It was a low full-toss, which nipped back in and caught Vohra on the middle stump. This wicket indubitably shattered all the winning hopes for KXIP and the tormentor-in-chief was none other than Bhuvneshwar.

Bhuvneshwar has been SRH’s go to man along with the sensational Rashid Khan this season. Whenever David Warner has been searching for a wicket, he threw the ball to Bhuvneshwar and the latter has rarely disappointed. His rise as a death over specialist has been mesmerizing and will play a crucial role for SRH in the remainder of the series. The fact that Bhuvneshwar has stepped in the absence of Mustafizur Rahman this season just adds to his stature.

Don’t be surprised if Bhuvneshwar once again bags the purple cap this season, for the fact that is well ahead in the race. Imran Tahir is second on the list with 16 wickets in his kitty while Bhuvneshwar is at the apex with 21.

With ICC Champions Trophy being around the corner, India will form a formidable bowling attack with the availability of a fully fit and in-form Bhuvneshwar. He played just a solitary game in the 2015 World Cup after being hampered by a mistimed injury. The likes of Bhuvneshwar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammad Shami render bowling a joy to behold and will certainly give India depth and stability in the elite tournament.

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