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Cricket World Cup 2019 | Irrepressible Bhuvneshwar the Perfect Foil to Bumrah and Shami

Nikhil Narain |July 5, 2019, 11:22 AM IST
Cricket World Cup 2019 | Irrepressible Bhuvneshwar the Perfect Foil to Bumrah and Shami

While Jasprit Bumrah continues to make headlines for his brilliant bowling at the death and Mohammed Shami is showered with praise for his wicket-taking prowess, there is a third Indian seamer – Bhuvneshwar Kumar – who quietly goes about his business delivering the goods for India but hardly gets noticed or the same attention as his other two team-mates.

While Bhuvneshwar has not been a prolific wicket-taker for India as the other two in the World Cup, it is his economy and ability to restrict the opposition batsmen which stand out.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar WC 2019_2

Bhuvneshwar has picked 6 wickets from 4 matches in the 2019 World Cup at an economy of 4.83 – the second-best for India only after Bumrah (4.6) and the eighth-best overall amongst all fast bowlers in the tournament.

The average economy rate for all Indian bowlers sans Bhuvneshwar in the tournament has been 5.21 – this means that Bhuvneshwar has conceded 0.38 runs per six balls less than what the other Indian bowlers have in the competition.

Bhuvneshwar went for 44 runs in his 10 overs against South Africa picking two lower-order wickets – second-most restrictive after Bumrah (min. 5 overs), 3-50 against Australia – the most restrictive Indian bowler while picking the wickets of Steven Smith and Marcus Stoinis, had just conceded 8 runs in 2.4 overs against Pakistan before suffering a hamstring injury and held his nerve against Bangladesh at the death after being brilliantly restrictive in the first powerplay.

Bhuvneshwar went for just 18 runs in the five overs even as Bangladesh were chasing 314. He bowled as many as 18 dot balls – ie 60% of the deliveries he bowled in the first powerplay were not scored off. He was hit for just one boundary in this period.

He was brilliant in his final spell at the death too. Shabbir Rahman and Mohammad Saifuddin had taken Shami for 11 in the 42nd over and with the required rate just above 9 – very much achievable in contemporary ODI cricket – the pressure was Bhuvneshwar to bowl a relatively quieter over. He varied his length – bowled full and bowled yorkers and mixed his pace slipping in the slower one and gave away just 5 runs of the over – this included two wides.

The pressure created by Bhuvneshwar meant that Sabbir took a wild swing at Bumrah off the first ball of the next over and was castled.

Bhuvneshwar has been exceptional in the first powerplay in the World Cup. He has bowled a total of 106 deliveries and conceded just 58 runs at an economy of just 3.28 – second-best amongst all pacers after Bumrah (2.96).

Bhuvneshwar Kumar WC 2019_1

Bhuvneshwar has been phenomenally restrictive with the new ball in 2019. He has bowled 278 dot balls of a total of 400 balls he has delivered in the first powerplay since January, 2019 – his dot-ball percentage of 69.5% is the sixth-best amongst fast bowers after Pat Cummins, Shami, Jofra Archer, Tim Murtagh and Trent Boult. His economy rate of 3.83 in this phase of play is the second-best only after Shami (3.69).

He has also picked 9 wickets at 28.33 apiece in the first powerplay in 2019.

His economy rate at the death rises to 8.34 (not bad for the slog overs) but he picks a wicket every 17.5 runs and still bowls approximately 32% of dot balls in this period – i.e. one of every three balls he bowls between overs 41-50 since 2019 is a dot ball.

2019 has been Bhuvneshwar’s best year in ODI cricket (min. 5 ODIs a year) in terms of both, bowling average and strike rate. He has picked 25 wickets in 14 matches at an average of 23.12 and strike rate of 27. His economy rate of 5.12 has also been very impressive.

It is the only calendar year in which, both, his average and strike rate have been in the 20s.

Contrast to his numbers in 2018 – just 11 wickets from 14 matches at an average of 48.81 and strike rate of 55 at an economy of 5.31 – it has been a massive turnaround for Bhuvneshwar – his average and strike rate have halved in 2019 – that is how good he has been this year.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar WC 2019_3

Bhuvneshwar has picked two-plus wickets in 9 of the 14 innings in 2019. He has gone for 5 or below runs per over also in as many matches. His average and strike rate, both are better than Bumrah and second only to Shami for India in 2019.

Bhuvneshwar is a vital cog for India as they enter the knockouts of the 2019 World Cup.

How he fares in the first powerplay and at the death will go a long way in determining India’s fortunes in the tournament.

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Cricket World Cup Points Table

9 7 1 1 15 +0.80
9 7 2 0 14 +0.86
9 6 3 0 12 +1.15
9 5 3 1 11 +0.17
9 5 3 1 11 -0.43
9 3 4 2 8 -0.91
9 3 5 1 7 -0.03
9 3 5 1 7 -0.41
9 2 6 1 5 -0.22
9 0 9 0 0 -1.32

Team Rankings

Rank Team Points Rating
1 India 3631 113
2 New Zealand 2547 111
3 South Africa 2917 108
4 England 3663 105
5 Australia 2640 98
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 England 6420 123
2 India 6807 122
3 New Zealand 4763 113
4 Australia 5470 112
5 South Africa 5193 110
see more
Rank Team Points Rating
1 Pakistan 7365 283
2 England 4253 266
3 South Africa 4196 262
4 Australia 5471 261
5 India 7273 260
see more