Watching Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jimmy Anderson swing the ball together would be a feast to the eyes – Mani Kumar | ICF – 127
J – Thank you for your participation in this interview, tell us a bit about yourself first.
Thank you so much Jay Bhai for providing me with the opportunity to express my views here. I am Mani Kumar and I’m studying BCom. We have seen over the years how the sport unites people from all walks of life and make no mistake, it is the lifeblood of our country. All of us have grown up around the game and it has been with us in every phase. Like them, I’m also a passionate fan of cricket since 2007. I remember my dad and uncle watching those 2007 T20 WC matches, they made me watch cricket. First time when I saw a left-handed batsman (Yuvraj) hitting sixes consecutively against Australia. That was my earliest memory of this sport. I got attracted to him and started to imitate Yuvraj, since then I’ve been a left handed batsman. I didn’t know why I got such happiness while holding a bat and hitting balls for fun, that feeling is incredible, It had become a stress booster for me. My clearest memory of watching cricket with a proper understanding of the game was the 2011 World cup.
J – Tell us about your favourite player Bhuvneshwar Kumar since you are a big fan of him.
(25 December 2012)The day after my birthday, There I saw a bowler from Meerut making his debut that day, I asked my dad, “Who is that bowler”? Never saw him play, Dad said “He is playing his first-ever international match today”, I don’t know why he seemed so unique to me, India scored only 133 runs in 20 overs, and then the second innings began, Jamshed was on the strike and this new lad in the team named Bhuvneshwar Kumar was ready to deliver his first-ever international ball. At the same time, we were waiting to end the first over so that we can savour some savagery bowling attack from our experienced bowling unit. The over progressed and each passing bowl was replicating the previous one. Zero run for last five deliveries of Bhuvneshwar, and Jamshed Ahmed of Pakistan was all set to non-striker end by leaving the last ball as he was quite unaware about the quality of bowling this young lad could deliver. The last ball pitching quite outside of the off stump and swings like a directed bullet into the stumps only to send Jamshed Ahmed back to the pavilion, I was like WOW, What a delivery that was, never saw this kind of bowling before, still remember that commentary “Ooo bowled him, fantastic ball.. Nasir Jamshed has gotta go back, courtesy: a brute of a ball” Enjoyed that swing masterclass. That debut spell has to be one of the best debut performances of all time. I got attracted to his exceptional swing bowling skills since then I’ve slowly started to follow him. Eventually, I became a huge fan of his bowling and that calm attitude, and became the first reason to watch this game with so much passion, will tell about my idol now – My Love and respect for Bhuvi is Immense, it has no boundaries.
Idolizing Bhuvneshwar Kumar is one of the best decisions I have ever taken. He is like a silent assassin. He believes in, “Work hard in silence & let success make noise for you.” He is not much vocal about himself. His performance speaks for him. He taught me how to stay calm under pressure situation and to have a down to earth behaviour.
J – Bhuvneshwar Kumar is a swing bowler and therefore his focus wasn’t much on pace during his early days, but he seemed to have worked on that aspect as well, tell us about this transition.
Bhuvi was primarily just a new ball bowler during his initial days with exceptional swing bowling skills and used to bowl at 125-130 kph, not much good at death due to lack of pace. That’s why we often see Dhoni utilising his 6-7 overs before 20 overs in Odis. During the phase when he was making a comeback in ICT, he trained hard to add some speed with his swing and he did bowl a lot of 140+kmph deliveries during IPL 2015-2018 and became one of the best death Bowlers at that time with lots of variations (Yorkers, slower ones, hard lengths, a mix of pace, etc.) And also became one of the finest and a complete bowler.
When Bhuvneshwar Kumar is playing Champions Trophy in England in June 2017, he was established as a pacer who can generate a fair amount of pace, who can tirelessly bowl at 140 kmph. Added to this speed is the venom of swing, control, and knuckleball. Bhuvneshwar Kumar has become the face of the Indian pace bowling attack. Unfortunately due to his injuries, he has lost a little pace recently, it’s not an easy task to regain that pace but I will still back him because of his ability to swing the ball both ways. I wish with time, he will regain that 140+ speed as well. India needs both Bhuvi and Bumrah to help to win WC titles.
J – Which is your favourite spell of Bhuvneshwar Kumar in each format including the IPL?
To be honest, I consider all of his spells as special, As I have to choose one favourite spell in each format so here I’m sharing my favourite Spells of him.
In T20s, his Debut spell (3/9) vs Pakistan, 2012 which made me fall in love with him, has to be my favourite. That was a swing masterclass from Bhuvi, that debut spell is the best economical spell by a bowler in a debut match, still, those scenes are fresh in my mind.
It may sound funny but yes, in ODIs too my fav spell is 3/9 Against Aus 2017, Hahaha, Took early wickets of Cartwright and David Warner in the Powerplay and Richardson at death, put lots of pressure on them which he is known for. With the help of Kuldeep and Chahal, India defended the target of 253.
In Tests, his 6/82 against England 2014 is a memorable one for me, his contribution in that series was unforgettable, not only with the ball but also with the bat, he was terrific. No wonder why he was being chosen as man of the series in that tour.
Now it comes to my all-time favourite spell of him in IPL. His 5/19 vs KXIP 2017 is my favourite IPL spell and all-time favourite spell too. SRH posted a moderate total of 159/6, Bhuvi dismissed Hashim Amla right from the first ball of the innings itself and Glenn Maxwell by the third over and reduced KXIP to 16/2.
J – One of the issues he is currently facing is fitness, how hard is it to see your favourite player getting injured just when International Cricket was back after the ease of lockdown?
Lack of match fitness was certainly an issue during the lockdown. That’s why we got to see so many injuries and misfields during the IPL. Bhuvi just recovered from a sports hernia that surprisingly went undiscovered at NCA and he played some matches with this condition. He was eyeing IPL to make a comeback into ICT. But suddenly when I saw him down on-field during the match due to a groin injury, I was shattered and extremely depressed that time. He missed that Australia tour after that but good that he’s making a comeback finally after good performances in the recent SMAT & Vijay Hazare Trophy. When I got to know that he has been selected for the T20I series against England, I was extremely happy and joyful along with a bit scared too and prayed for his good health and future matches, I’m excited to witness his comeback journey.
J – While there are those who are a fan of Bhuvneshwar Kumar due to his bowling especially swing, there are also those who will troll him due to his lack of pace. What do you have to say about it?
First of all, being a fast bowler in Asia is tough. Many legendary bowlers used to bowl below 140s. Swinging the ball is an art. If you have this, you can trouble the batsmen even with 120+kph speed too, I’ve explained above about the transition of Bhuvi. Cricket twitter never fails to amuse me. Here you get to see all sorts of opinions. One section is stats merchants who keep doing X>Y. Another section keeps fighting for their favourites. One section is full of those Indians who support every other country but not our ICT. And one section is of trollers. These are the people who were 12th man maybe not that too even in their gully teams.
And the last section is agenda merchants who always step up to bring their senseless and brain-faded agendas, I seriously doubt their IQ when someone troll players of their own country. But sadly nowadays people have been more LOYAL towards IPL franchises than country and they justify it by saying ICT is under BCCI which is a private organization. Many are glory hunters. Many don’t live in the home state of a franchise they support. It’s always easy to back the team with most IPL titles. They do it purposely to get more engagement. Time will give them back.
J – Alongside which fast bowler would you enjoy watching Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the most?
I love to watch Bhuvi and Bumrah bowling together. And this duo has been so successful over the last few years for India. And personally, if I have to choose one fast bowler with whom I would enjoy watching Bhuvi, then it would be James Anderson.
J – Is Bhuvneshwar Kumar in your all-time XI?
To be honest, I don’t believe in this kind of fictional concept of all time XI. Because no matter how balanced side you pick people tend to disagree with something. Every player is best in his time and every one is unique in their own way so it’s better to enjoy them separately rather than making these all-time XI’s, that’s what I believe.