India vs South Africa: Why Bhuvneshwar Kumar is not playing Test matches - Making sense of conundrum
Team India head coach Ravi Shastri spoke about the fair number of fast-bowling options for India to consider across all the three formats. In a chat with Hindustan Times, Shastri identified the different options for different formats and in the process, identified Bhuvneshwar Kumar as a limited-overs prospect. It was a rather strange assessment considering the fact the fast-bowler has always done well in the limited opportunities he has got with the red ball.
“There is Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. How you look after each one of them is very important. Then we have Umesh Yadav, and Navdeep Saini is in the line for Tests. As far as white-ball cricket is concerned, you have Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Khaleel Ahmed in the wings. You got Deepak Chahar who has done so well,” Shastri said.
Now, the question which arises is: Why has Bhuvneshwar been sidelined from the Test side. We need to jog our memories back to the time when India toured South Africa last year. He played the first Test, in Cape Town, and picked up six wickets. India lost and then he was benched for the second match. India lost that one too and when the teams travelled to Johannesburg, a treacherous surface awaited them. Kohli played Bhuvneshwar and the fast bowler was unplayable - he out bowled all the other bowlers - his figures read 3 for 44 and 1 for 39. Also, he scored 30 and 33 and bagged the man of the match award.
And yet, he has not managed to play another Test match- there have been injuries concerns and loss of form. Also, Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah have formed a powerful combination for Kohli across all the conditions. And as Shastri said, there are other young bowlers who have shown tremendous promise.
In England, when the conditions would have favoured him, he was injured in the limited-overs series which ended his tour. He came back home, worked on his fitness and even though, he conceded that the break had an impact on his rhythm, he looked good when he turned up in blues in the Asia Cup.
These performances were consistent, he kept picking up wickets with the white ball and owing to workload management, kept getting rested for Test matches. He has now way down in the pecking order and perhaps, not part of the plans as far as India’s Test ambitions are concerned.