India vs Windies | Takeaways : Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s ODI struggle and Windies’ fluke resurgence

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BCCI

India vs Windies | Takeaways : Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s ODI struggle and Windies’ fluke resurgence

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SportsCafe Desk

11/01/2018

Ravindra Jadeja's four-wicket haul helped India bowl out Windies for a meager 104, and after that, the hosts romped home in a canter in order to seal the series 3-1. However, the game was important for India as Bhuvneshwar Kumar finally showcased his ability in limited-overs cricket.

Can the real Bhuvneshwar Kumar please turn up?

More than anything else, it has been Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s approach to ODI bowling that has been baffling. From primarily being a swing bowler to being reduced to a “hit the deck” bowler, India’s pace spearhead has lost his incisiveness which has made him vulnerable in the limited-overs cricket. Although it is a fair argument that the white Kookaburra doesn’t move as much as it does in Test cricket, he has been delivering short of length most of the time, which is something that he is not known for. 

Even in the fourth ODI at the Brabourne when the ball was not swinging a lot, Bhuvneshwar kept on bowling full, which had troubled the batsman. In that match, he was bowling closer to the stumps and made it tougher for the batsman as there were less pronounced angles to play with. The line of the ball was mostly in line with the stumps, which meant the batsman had no choice but to play at most deliveries. When it swung a bit, it put the batsmen in trouble. And the same Bhuvneshwar turned up today as well, which must be heartening for the skipper. It was from the very first ball that the bowler started moving the ball and the reason was he was pitching it up.

But, the chain has somehow been missing and so has been the wicket-taking ability. Given the rustiness that he has developed during his injury period, he is struggling now. Cutting him some slack there is fair, but he can’t get the process wrong and expect the wickets to come. He is too good a bowler to be trying all this. 

Khaleel needs to learn the importance of patience

Khaleel Ahmed doesn’t have a slanting pace of a Stuart Broad or even an Ashish Nehra for that matter. Apart from the off-cutter as a slower ball, there didn't seem to be anything else to make the opposition fear. However, what he does have is the ability to move the ball both ways which is huge a weapon in itself. In Mumbai, he got two crucial Windies wickets in the form of Marlon Samuels and Shimron Hetmyer, with two different kinds of swing and got the ball to go both ways by releasing it with different seam positions.

Mumbai ODI ©
Thiruvananthapuram ODI

In the same match, he kept on bowling either at the good length and short of good length spots to give the ball downtime in the air to do the trick, but today was another day where his inexperience took over the logic. In Thiruvananthapuram, after going for a six and a four in the very first over that he bowled, he was immediately taken aback and kept on bowling short balls, conveniently forgetting that his natural angle with the odd variation of off-cutters was a danger in itself. 

He got the wickets that might help him do away with a scathing in the team meeting, but Bharat Arun needs to sit with him and tell him that he still can make the straight ball look like it has done something when it slants across a batsman or give him the example of the India-Australia series in 2003-04. Nathan Bracken and India's left-arm bowlers consistently made the ball hold its line, and even dart back in, which resulted in batsman not trusting the bounce and being dismissed more often than not. It doesn’t change much in the limited-overs cricket too and not being bogged down by a couple of bad balls is the key here. Once Khaleel realizes this, he will be a huge weapon for Team India.

Is it a promise or is it a fluke?

There is a huge chasm between India and Windies. While one is probably the best all-format team in the world at the moment, Windies somehow managed to book a place in the World Cup, after playing the qualifiers. There was a little point discussing the class, but boy, have not Windies made everyone sit up and take notice of them in this ODI series, which holds them well for the World Cup in 2019.

Windies came to India with an ordinary unit and there's every possibility they might field a completely different playing XI in the World Cup. It will be very difficult for them to not include the likes of Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kieron Pollard, and Evin Lewis, and therein lies the problem. But with the World Cup being only seven months away, why is this happening? Kieron Powell, Shai Hope, Shimron Hetmyer have been partly brilliant in the series so far and with Jason Holder being all but sure for the tournament, it will be a headache for the Windies selection committee to give chances to senior pros. 

However, the headache would have been much more at this moment as all the players failed to showcase any sort of character in the last two games. The batting lacked spine, fielders kept on spilling catches, and bowlers, well, apart from that one game in Pune, were never in the matches. Does it augur well for them and make the case easy for the established players to find a spot without much of match practice?

Your guess is as good as mine.

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