Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s maiden 5-wicket haul boosts India vs Sri Lanka
Bhuvneshwar Kumar improved on his previous best, 4/8 taken against Sri Lanka at Port-of-Spain, during a Tri-series in 2013. His maiden five-wicket haul restricted Sri Lanka to 238.Updated: Sep 03, 2017 20:58 IST
Bhuvneshwar Kumar may not have got a wicket coming into the final One-day International against Sri Lanka at the Premadasa Stadium on Sunday. But that didn’t matter much as India were on a victory path all through their tour of Sri Lanka. Besides, Bhuvneshwar had played perhaps the most important innings of the series. (India vs Sri Lanka: 5th ODI - HIGHLIGHTS)
His unbeaten 53 in the second ODI in Pallekele, sharing a century partnership with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saved India embarrassment and guided the team to a three-wicket victory in the end. The innings had been left tottering by the six-wicket haul of spinner Akila Dananjaya. (India vs Sri Lanka: 5th ODI - SCORECARD)
That was Bhuvneshwar’s maiden ODI fifty, which came after scoring three Test half-centuries. On Sunday, Bhuvneshwar grabbed his first five-wicket haul in an ODI to put Sri Lanka’s batting ambitions on hold.
Bhuvneshwar’s five for 42 came after taking four five-wicket innings hauls in Test cricket. He started strongly to make inroads into the Sri Lankan top-order and then dashed their hopes of finishing well.
Failing to take a wicket in the first three games, Bhuvneshwar was very much in the shadows of Jasprit Bumrah, who claimed his maiden five-wicket ODI haul in the third match of the series.
Rested for the previous match which India won by 168 runs, Bhuvneshwar returned, doubly energised.
The 27-year-old seamer improved on his previous best, 4/8 taken against Sri Lanka at Port-of-Spain in a Tri-series in 2013.
Bhuvneshwar bowled with good pace in the beginning, and hit the deck so hard once the ball flew over a leaping Dhoni to the boundary.
Bhuvi had extra responsibility as inexperienced Shardul Thakur was leaking runs at the other end. He first dismissed opener Niroshan Dickwella (2) by having him caught and bowled and foxed newcomer Dilshan Munaweera (4), who tried to force the pace only to miscue to Virat Kohli at mid-off.
Bhuvneshwar returned to provide the crucial breakthrough, ending the 122-run partnership between Lahiru Thirimanne (67) and Angelo Mathews. He bowled Thirimanne, who was gliding the ball to third man repeatedly to score.
The death over specialist completed his five-wicket haul by dismissing Milinda Siriwardena (18) and last man Lasith Malinga (2), both caught, in the slog overs.
Bhuvneshwar is known for his undemonstrative nature. On Sunday, having taken the last wicket, there was hardly any celebration to mark the milestone, until his team mates went up to congratulate him.
But for India, his all-round skills could be vital as they gear up for the 2019 World Cup in England.