Will we see Bhuvneshwar Kumar return to India whites against England? (Getty Images)
Will we see Bhuvneshwar Kumar return to India whites against England? (Getty Images)

Fit-again Bhuvneshwar Kumar eyes England Test series comeback

  • The swing bowler, who missed the Australia tour due to injury, is on a comeback and playing in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament.
By Sharad Deep, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON JAN 18, 2021 07:45 PM IST

With India’s top pacers Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav injured and Ishant Sharma on a comeback, seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar is fit again and looking forward to playing in next month’s home Test series against England.

The pacer, who suffered a thigh muscle injury playing for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Indian Premier League in October, made his comeback with Uttar Pradesh in the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament’s Bengaluru leg.

“I am raring to go against England. I am fit after recovering from injury,” Kumar, 30, said on Monday. “I did my rehab well at the National Cricket Academy and am playing in Mushtaq Ali Trophy to prove my match fitness.”

England are scheduled to play four Tests, five T20s and three ODIs. India’s Australia tour ends on Tuesday with the Brisbane Test. The series is tied 1-1 though Shami (forearm fracture) was injured in the first Test, Yadav (calf) in the second and Bumrah (stomach muscle) was sidelined for the Gabba Test. Rookie pacers Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, Navdeep Saini and T Natarajan have a big impression in their absence. Kumar and Ishant Sharma, who was also injured in IPL, were ruled out before the Australia tour.

Bhuvneshwar looked ahead to a busy season, after a curtailed 2020 season due to the Covid-19 pandemic. IPL this year is likely to be held in the summer with a limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka planned for June (3 ODIs, 5 T20Is).

“Before IPL, my mission is to do well against England and I am looking forward to the opportunity,” said Kumar, who took three wickets in the opening Mustaq Ali Trophy league match against Punjab. “There are plenty of opportunities this year, but I am taking it one by one.”

Kumar has suffered a series of injury setbacks in the last five years. An ankle injury during the 2015 World Cup Down Under had kept him out for a long time. He missed five matches in the 2018 IPL due to back issues, and an injury that persisted through India’s tour of England later that year. At the 2019 ICC World Cup in England, he missed matches against Afghanistan, West Indies and England due to hamstring trouble and then sat out the home series against South Africa and Bangladesh in the 2019-20 season with a side strain.

“Bhuvi’s experience would be handy for India at home against England as his ability to swing the ball is tremendous. His 63 wickets in 21 Tests and the ability to bat in the lower order are unique and he deserves opportunities,” says UP chief coach Gyanendra Pandey.

“I was surprised to see Bhuvi bowling perfect swing, that too with good speed, in the nets when he joined us at Bengaluru early this month,” he added.

Kumar, who has played 21 Tests, has fifties in that format as well as in ODIs. He has scored 552 Test runs with three half-centuries and a top score of 63 not out.

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