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SRH vs DC: Sunrisers Hyderabad wait on Bhuvneshwar Kumar to find his old rhythm

Bhuvneshwar now is a far cry from the death-overs expert, who made Sunrisers Hyderabad’s attack potent in earlier editions.

cricket Updated: Apr 14, 2019 09:00 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Kolkata
SRH vs DC,Sunrisers Hyderabad,Bhuvneshwar Kumar
File image of SRH cricketer Bhuvneshwar Kumar.(PTI)

The last year hasn’t been good for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. A back injury kept him in and out of the Indian team, affecting the rhythm of the swing bowler, and though he is playing regularly for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL, the 29-year-old is struggling for rhythm.

Bhuvneshwar now is a far cry from the death-overs expert, who made Sunrisers Hyderabad’s attack potent in earlier editions. He claimed 23 wickets in 2016 when SRH won the title and 26 when they reached the playoffs the next year.

This season, Bhuvneshwar has started on a subdued note, though he is confident he can turn things around. “I am not really worried about it as I am not missing those yorkers by a big margin. I am confident about getting wickets in one match and returning around the rhythm,” he had said after Sunrisers defeated Rajasthan Royals, where he returned with figures of 0/55.

Bhuvneshwar has taken just three wickets in six matches this season. His economy rate of 8.22 and strike rate of 46 is well over his IPL career numbers of 7.25 and 19.47 respectively. After rich hauls for three seasons in a row, Bhuvi, weighed down by the back injury, took only nine wickets last season.

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As SRH prepared to face an upbeat Delhi Capitals at home on Sunday, they were fifth in the table, one slot above the Shreyas Iyer-led team.

Sunrisers’ coach Tom Moody backed his premier bowler to bounce back.

“Last year, Bhuvi played nearly 70 per cent of the games injured with us. He had a lower back injury and he carried that throughout the season. So, no one is going to be very best when you carry an injury. Bhuvi is no different from any other player. When you are not playing consistent cricket, they lack that rhythm. When you are on the sidelines, not getting match conditions, you do lose that rhythm. Bowling at the nets is different to bowling in the middle. Bhuvi is going to get better and better as this tournament unfolds, and it’s good news for India as well,” he said on Saturday.

“He is a world class bowler -- in both red-ball and white-ball cricket. He has shown over long periods of time that he is deadly with the white ball and in English conditions you will be brave to leave him out.”

Bhuvneshwar will be heartened that his best figures this season, 2/27, came in the five-wicket win over Capitals in New Delhi.

The Uttar Pradesh seamer has been under scrutiny time and again, but has bounced back each time. An ankle injury hampered him during the 2015 World Cup, but he worked hard to regained fitness.

When he started out, he was one of India’s finest swing bowlers but not possessing sheer pace meant he could not be effective once the ball got old and stopped moving. He didn’t get bogged down, going back to work on increasing his pace. Then his ability to stifle batsmen in the death overs was questioned by some experts. He added variations to become India’s leading pacer in limited-overs cricket.

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Based on IPL performances, Bhuvneshwar sealed his India spot and was among the prolific bowlers in the league from 2014 to 2017.

At the World Cup, he is likely to compete with Mohammed Shami for a place in the playing eleven. With the squad to be named on Monday, a good haul will be what the doctor ordered.

First Published: Apr 13, 2019 23:24 IST