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PK delivers with brain, not brawn

If Rahul Dravid is the batting star of the visitors, Praveen Kumar is the bowling hero. He is a cerebral performer who outwits the batsmen with craft, reports Sanjjeev K Samyal. Praveen in numbers

cricket Updated: Sep 07, 2011 01:25 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times
Sanjjeev K Samyal,Southampton,praveen kumar

His face is devoid of emotion and he is seldom seen communicating on the field. But the body language is proof he is a fierce competitor. The determined look in the eyes and the assured demeanour even under pressure reflects his fighting character.

If Rahul Dravid is the batting star of the visitors, Kumar is the bowling hero.

England showed in the Test series that they are among the best planners in the game. Under Graham Gooch, the batting line-up has gone from strength to strength; but it speaks volumes about the player's skills that despite facing him over two months, they have not been able to break the code.

Swing is the key
He was the only impressive Indian bowler in the Tests with 15 wickets at 29.53. It looks like he will make it tough for the England batters in the one-dayers too. Although the white ball swings less compared to the red ball, in the four overs he bowled at Chester-le-Street, Kumar proved the colour or make doesn't matter when you have the skill set. He still generated swing and used the new ball more effectively than the home pacers.

Kumar gave India a headstart by claiming the wickets of both the England openers with just 21 on board. At 27 for two with 275 to get, the pressure was on the home team when rain ended the contest.

An effective lower-order batsman for Uttar Pradesh, he has a reputation in domestic cricket but hasn't shown the same potential at the highest level. He will still have gained some confidence from the Test series, where he scored 110 runs in three games at 18.33.

As England work on sorting out the bowler, Kumar is not one to bother about theories. His philosophy is simple - a good ball will be a good ball. When pitched in the corridor of uncertainty and imparted late swing, it will test any batsman in any condition.

He is a cerebral performer who outwits the batsmen with craft.

What he lacks in pace, he makes up with accuracy. He has the variations and an understanding of when and why to use them, and he tries to set up a batsman with a definite plan.

Not a bowler who relies on his strong frame, Kumar's strength is his wrist work.

Releasing it right
He has mastered the release. The seam position is steady to make the ball to snake around on pitching.

However, what has endeared him to the English fans is his fighting quality. During the tiring Test series, Kumar plugged away lion-heartedly till he broke down at the end of the third Test.

In the absence of Zaheer Khan, he's emerged as a natural leader of the Indian attack. The stoic 24-year-old is not expected to mentor his teammates with long chats. The paceman from Uttar Pradesh will do it his way and look to inspire them with his skill and never-say-die attitude.

First Published: Sep 07, 2011 00:20 IST

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