Focus back on Bhuvi as India fail to make early breakthroughs

Though Indian bowlers made a strong comeback and ran through the New Zealand middle-order on the fifth day of the World Test Championship (WTC) final on Tuesday, their failure to get early breakthroughs and extract seam movement brought forth the need to have pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

Former cricketers have called on Indian selectors to consider the pace bowler for the remaining part of the tour of England during which Indians play five Test matches against England.

The right-armer injured his thigh during Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 and was ruled out for the tour of Australia. He made a comeback in domestic limited-overs tournaments and then represented India against England in white ball cricket.

But lack of multiple days’ cricket — the long format cricket — has meant that Bhuvneshwar wasn’t yet considered ready for Test cricket. He hasn’t played a long format game since January 2018.

Bhuvneshwar’s record in England though could be worth looking at. He has 19 wickets in five Tests at an average of 26.63 and an economy rate 2.92. He also has two five-wicket hauls.

“Bhuvneshwar should be called up for the England series. Though he has injury concerns, even if he can play two or three Tests for India, the team will greatly benefit. The conditions will suit him, and we already saw how the team is missing a genuine swing bowler,” said former England skipper Nasser Hussain on air during the WTC final.

Former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar said that he would have Bhuvi as the fourth seamer.

“If he was around, I would go with him as the fourth seamer. It [fitness issues] could have been a [concern]. But he did play the IPL this time around. And there was not any injury issue. Yes, in the last IPL he did pull out. But just for this game, it is being played in the month of June,” he said on air, referring to period when the ball swings more in England. “I would have certainly considered Bhuvneshwar Kumar.”

Bhuvneshwar was exceptional in limited-overs cricket series against England recently. He picked six wickets in three ODIs at an average of 22.5 and with an economy rate of 4.65.

In the five-match T20I series, he took four wickets at an average of 28.75 and an economy rate of 8.06.