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MSD should unlock Bhuvneshwar's potential in the death overs

It’s time for MSD to unlock Bhuvneshwar’s potential in the death overs and that would, once again, cement his place in the side. If he fails to grab these chances, it might get a little tough for him to become an integral part of Team India once again, writes Aakash Chopra

Aakash ChopraAny series between the ICC No 2 and No 8 teams are likely to be termed as a low-key lop-sided series. And if rain is likely to play a dominant role, the interest and its relevance dips further. But now that Bangladesh has outplayed India in the first ODI, the series can no longer be treated as a mere formality. India must win the next ODI today to stay alive in the series.

Even though India lost the first game and there weren’t enough bright sparks besides Ashwin and Rohit, most of the players’ individual spots in the side aren’t under a scanner. India has picked the squad that featured in the World Cup for this tour and all of them have been in reasonably good form playing a key role in the semi-final finish for the team.

India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. PIC/AFP
India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. Pic/AFP

An important assignment
While most players would view this as another ODI series to enhance their numbers, Bhuvneshwar Kumar should view this as an important assignment, for he’s been sidelined for a bit too long. He was India’s key bowler in the shorter format not too long ago but loss of form and an injury has pushed him on the sidelines. Bowlers like Shami, Mohit, and Umesh have stolen a march over the paceman from Uttar Pradesh.

There’s another small twist in the tale for Bhuvneshwar Kumar — that Virat Kohli preferred pace over swing for the Test match in Bangladesh. Since it was one Test match, perhaps, it’s not wise to read too much into it but I’m seeing merit in Kohli’s decision and won’t be surprised if he continues with the same tactic for the extended home season.

The way to attack with fast bowlers on dusty pitches in the sub-continent is to wait for the ball to get old and then exploit any reverse-swing that’s available. The new ball is unlikely to yield wickets and hence it’s prudent to pick bowlers who’ve got extra pace to make good use of the old ball. And it’s quite apparent that Bhuvneshawar Kumar is likely to struggle once the ball gets old on such pitches. It’s not that slower bowlers don’t extract reverse-swing but the lack of pace makes it easier for batsmen to handle it.

Bhuvneshwar was exceptional in the last two seasons of the IPL especially with the old ball, for he mastered the art of bowling yorkers. He proved that you don’t really need express pace to be effective if you can find the block-hole regularly. While this theory holds ground when batsmen are going after you, it doesn’t prove half as effective when the batsmen are happy to block it. That’s when you need extra pace to make the ball tail back in sharply to go through the batsman’s defence. Perhaps, it’s time for captain Dhoni to unlock Bhuvneshwar’s potential in the death overs of an ODI and that would, once again, cement his place in the side. If Bhuvneshwar fails to grab these chances, it might get a little tough for him to become an integral part of Team India once again.

4.63
Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s economy rate in 48 ODIs. The right-arm pacer has given 1728 runs in 2239 balls at an average of 36.00

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