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IPL 2017: Super swinger Bhuvneshwar Kumar hits 'purple' patch... and cap!Santosh SuriApr 19, 2017, 09:41 IST
New Delhi: Move aside speed merchants, Bhuvneshwar Kumar is on the prowl! Interestingly, it's not the bowlers with speed in excess of 140 kmph, but a genial seam bowler, who is ruling the roost in the Indian Premier League. Sunrisers Hyderabad's Bhuvi is way ahead of the field with a haul of 15 wickets in just five matches earning him the purple cap (for highest wicket-taker in IPL) after he took a splendid 5-19 against Kings XI Punjab in Hyderabad on Monday night.
Much of the focus before IPL-10 was on speedsters like debutant Tymal Mills (Royal Challengers Bangalore), veteran Lasith Malinga (Mumbai Indians), Umesh Yadav (Kolkata Knight Riders) and Mohammed Shami (Delhi Daredevils). However, due to poor form or injury concerns, these pace bowlers are yet to make a mark.
On the other hand, Bhuvi has been outstanding, not only taking wickets, but also having an envious economy rate of 5.40. He averages a wicket every eighth ball. That's the reason he's become the go-to bowler for SRH skipper David Warner. The Aussie has made judicious use of the lanky Meerut bowler, like he did on Monday against KXIP, leading his team to a fine five-run win.
Bhuvi is no stranger to Indian cricket. He has been around for some time, and be it in India or abroad, whenever he's got the opportunity, he has delivered. He has 45 wickets from 18 Tests, with four five-wicket hauls. He has been parsimonious in both ODIs and T20Is, besides the IPL of course. Given his form, he seems an automatic choice for Team India in the ICC Champions Trophy that begins in the United Kingdom from June 1. The swinging English conditions could make him India's trump card.
Subtle variations, a nagging line and length and of course swing are Bhuvi's hallmarks. Initially, he was only useful with the new ball, but with experience, he has developed a good slower delivery and yorker as well to be equally effective in slog overs. He's thus grabbing wickets both up-front as well as at the fag-end of an innings.
"Bowling at the death is a challenge as batsmen want to go after you whatever the situation. Bowlers need to be a step ahead, so besides pace, length and accuracy are vital too. I've worked hard on these aspects and they are paying dividends," Bhuvi said about his effectiveness particularly in slog overs.
"Over the last year or so, I have strived to add a bit more pace and that's making a difference. Swing at good pace is always difficult to tackle," he said of his recent success.
So, is the Champions Trophy already on his mind?
"My focus currently is on the IPL. As defending champs, we are eager to do an encore. However, I am keen to go to England if picked (for the ICC Champions Trophy). I have always enjoyed bowling in England and I'm confident I will do well there again," added the genial bowler.