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Praveen swings into contention

india Updated: Jun 25, 2011 23:25 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times
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He was last in the line as India looked for a temporary solution for their new ball attack. The visitors, however, owe a lot to Praveen Kumar's sensational debut as they go into the second Test against West Indies in Barbados with a 1-0 lead.

The team management knew Praveen could swing the ball. But the 24-year-old bowler was seen as a limited-overs specialist, not quick but useful to get early breakthroughs when the white ball moves a bit.

After capturing six for 80, all genuine batsmen, Kumar could now become a perfect fit for the England tour next month where conditions will favour his type of bowling, providing a pleasant headache for the selectors.

"Praveen is a skilful bowler, he can swing the ball either way. He does not bowl at 140 kph but he can definitely swing the ball and put it in right areas, which means he can confuse the batsmen about whether he needs to play it or leave it," said skipper MS Dhoni after sealing a 63-run win on the fourth day at the Sabina Park.

Right temperament
Praveen scored both with his accuracy and temperament. There was no anxiety as he was handed the new ball ahead of Sharma and he kept pegging away from close to the stumps, making the batsmen play most of the deliveries.

With Sharma struggling to come to terms with a strong crosswind and straying down the leg side too often, Kumar's control proved so crucial. Although West Indies batsmen did not pose too many problems in the end, Kumar, known as a workhorse in the domestic circuit, also proved his stamina in the longer version of the game. The only area he needs to work on before the second Test will be his run-up. He was banished from the attack in the first innings after three warnings for running onto the pitch after bowling from close to the stumps, and was again warned in the second innings.

"He had done the damage; I don't think he was needed after that in that innings," Dhoni said, explaining Praveen had work to do.

"That is one step above, when you come from a 10-over format to where you have to bowl 20-25 overs you may have to be careful. Most of our bowlers do struggle when it comes to going into the danger area but over the years we have improved."

West Indies batsmen were expected to struggle against spin. But with Harbhajan Singh, four short of 400 Test wickets, and Amit Mishra handled well by the home batsmen on an uneven pitch, Praveen will be crucial again at Bridgetown.