The importance of first impression and sense of occasion can't be overstated. In his debut game on Tuesday, Bhuvneshwar Kumar demonstrated he was keenly aware of both.
The 22-year-old from Kanpur couldn't have created a more favourable first impression than he did. Three wickets
for just nine runs in a T20 game - they are dream figures for any debutant. The good part, however, doesn't end here, it kind of begins there. More than the wickets, how he got them was more impressive. How he swung the ball both ways, how he cleverly mixed it up, and the control he showed was just remarkable for a debutant.
And, then, he couldn't have chosen a grander stage than the India-Pakistan game to announce his arrival. Here, one performance can make or mar a career, and he showed nerves of steel not to get daunted by the occasion.
"That's him. He always stays calm, composed and confident no matter what the situation is. And that approach makes him mentally very strong," said Gyanendra Pandey, the former UP coach under whom Kumar started his first class career.
While taking away nothing from his startling performance, it has to be pointed out that conditions in Bangalore were just perfect for his type of bowling and he wasn't revving up the speedometer either. So, will he be able to hold his own in conditions that don't offer as much support?
"He has consistently been a top performer in the domestic circuit for the last five years. All these years he has bowled on all sorts of wickets. That alone is enough to prove there must be something really good about him," said Pandey.
Sanjay Rastogi, his coach since his early days in Kanpur, feels his ability to stick to good line and length and extract swing in almost any conditions would keep him handy all the time. "He always had that menacing in-swing that flummoxed Pakistan batsmen on Tuesday. What has made it even more lethal is his ability to bowl out-swingers. He has worked hard to add that dimension to his natural abilities," he said.
And just as India discovered a potentially good bowler in that T20 game, Pakistan, too, could make the same claim with the reportedly seven-footer Mohammad Irfan showing both spunk and speed.
The tall pacer played two ODIs for Pakistan about two years back, only to be discarded away as not good enough. In his comeback game on Tuesday, however, he made the India openers hop around with his 145 or thereabout pace and steep bounce.
"He was our surprise package and I am glad it worked really well. He put in a lot of hard work after being dropped from the team, and after this performance I can say he would be really tough to handle," said Pakistan skipper Mohammad Hafeez.
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