Time and again India throw up a medium pacer who is a threat with his swing and ability to take early wickets.
With best figures of 4/8 on Tuesday, Bhuvneshwar Kumar showed he is here to stay. Ironically, he was dropped in favour of Shami Ahmed a week ago against the same opponents, Sri Lanka, despite a decent performance.
But he showed exactly why India need him around during the crunch moments of a tournament, more so now, in Thursday’s final. With an effortless bowling action, he can hurry on to the batsmen despite his lithe frame, as Sri Lanka found out on Tuesday.
Not being hit for a single boundary by India’s most familiar opponents also speaks volumes of his discipline. It only helped that the Queen’s Park Oval pitch had become lively after staying under covers for more than four hours of rain.
But it was still a match Sri Lanka could have won and knocked India out of the tournament.
Chasing a modified score of 178 off 26 overs isn’t a big deal in these days of Twenty20 cricket. Only early wickets could have stopped Sri Lanka and Bhuvneshwar, who is developing a knack for it, delivered again.
The conditions were helpful but what made Bhuvneshwar’s bowling stand out was his determination to not get carried away. Unlike Umesh Yadav, who in his first over tried to experiment, either bowling full or too short and wide, Bhuvneshwar concentrated on pitching the ball just short of good length and allowed the elements to take care of the rest. “I wanted to keep it straight and pitch in the right spots. I stuck to my basics and kept it simple, and the pitch assisted a bit. I didn’t try to do too many things,” he said later.
Upul Tharanga walked into the trap, hanging his bat away from the body to present an easy catch to Suresh Raina at slip. The ball zipping around, it required application to stay put but Sri Lanka’s restlessness was baffling. By removing Lahiru Thirimanne, Bhuvneshwar ensured Sri Lanka could never recover.