Not many would have bet on Vinay Kumar leading the wickets tally after a fortnight of the Indian T20 league. The seamer has been a surprise with his death-over accuracy and the ability to take wickets at crucial intervals.
The purple cap, which has been playing musical chair so far, currently sits proudly on Kumar's head. The Royal Challengers Bangalore bowler has taken 12 wickets in seven matches.
Skipper Virat Kohli has thrown the ball to Kumar at critical junctures and the Karnataka Ranji skipper has responded very well. In the very first match against Mumbai Indians, he bowled a terrific final over to steal a win.
He almost repeated the feat next up against Sunrisers Hyderabad when he defended seven runs in the last over to take the game into Super Over. He wasn't successful in the one-over eliminator but has remained a vital cog in the wheel for the team.
He was exceptional on Saturday against Rajasthan Royals. With state-mates Rahul Dravid and Stuart Binny going strong, Kumar dismissed Binny and removed two more wickets to derail the innings.
“I am really happy,” he said. “I will make sure I progress along the same lines, and put in the same effort to get more wickets. The purple cap has been changing hands and I really enjoy that competition.”
Kumar has stayed grounded and that quality can be put down to his humble background, having been raised in the small town of Davanagere.
This season, with Zaheer Khan not available, Kumar has taken on the mantle of leading the attack. “When he comes back, it will be a plus. It is a good learning experience for me.”
Does he feel extra pressure bowling at the death?
“In T20, there is pressure from ball one to the last ball. The batsman tries to hit every ball. It puts a lot of pressure on the bowler, but I love to bowl under that kind of pressure. From the first season, the coach has told us pressure is a privilege. If we do well under pressure, that's when the performance counts.”