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Meet India's new bowling hope

Last updated on: February 14, 2013 12:34 IST

Is he India's new bowling hope?

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Harish Kotian

'In Indian conditions, the spinners are expected to do most of the work with the ball,' Bhuvanesh Kumar tells Rediff.com's Harish Kotian.

'As a pace bowler you need to support them by taking some early wickets. My role will be to make the early breakthroughs.'

Bhuvneshwar Kumar first made waves when he became the first bowler to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar for a duck in domestic cricket.

That occurred in the 2008-2009 Ranji Trophy final.

It took him another three years of hard work and consistent performances for Uttar Pradesh before he achieved his dream of playing for India.

Kumar made an immediate impact in international cricket when he bowled a magnificent spell, taking three wickets for nine runs in a Twenty 20 game against Pakistan last December.

After consistent performances in the series against Pakistan and England, Bhuvneshwar now finds himself in the Test team for the series against Australia.

In six seasons in domestic cricket, Bhuvneshwar, 23, has an impressive 149 wickets in 46 first class games, also scoring 1,848 runs at an average of 30.29.

As he prepares for the four-match series against Michael Clarke's Aussie side, Bhuvneshwar Kumar spoke to Rediff.com's Harish Kotian.

In the space of just two months, you have made it to the team in all three formats. Does it feel real?

It feels great that my performances in domestic cricket have been recognised.

You are not an express fast bowler and rely more on swing to make an impact.

What is important for a swing bowler to do well on Indian wickets?

There is no specific formula that you need to follow to do well on certain wickets. You have to back yourself and look to give your 100 percent whenever you are bowling out in the middle.

You need to plan your bowling. Whenever things are not working for you -- like if you don't get swing -- then you have to be ready with a backup plan and try something else.

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Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Photographs: BCCI

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'Domestic cricket has been a good learning experience'

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When you were selected for the ODI team, you said it was your dream to share the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar. You were not able to do that as Tendulkar had retired from ODIs.

Now you will get your chance to share the dressing room with the great man. How happy are you with that opportunity?

I am very happy that I will be in the same dressing room as Sachin Tendulkar.

He has been a great player for so many years and I will get to learn from his experience of having played at the highest level.

The best part is that I will get to share his experiences and learn a lot by being with him, which will be a big help in the future.

You made an instant impression in the limited overs series against Pakistan, and then against England.

Did it help that you played a lot of domestic cricket for Uttar Pradesh in the last five years?

It does help a lot if you have played a lot of domestic cricket, especially on Indian wickets, where there is not much help for medium pacers.

It has proved to be a good learning experience to bowl on such wickets. You plan different things on to how to get wickets. That can only improve your bowling overall.

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Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Photographs: BCCI

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'I have always looked up to Praveen for inspiration'

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You are very similar to your UP team mate Praveen Kumar when it comes to bowling.

He has played a lot of international matches. How much have you learnt from him?

We have played a lot of matches. We practice together all the time. I have learnt a lot from watching him bowl and by talking to him about swing bowling.

He has always been helpful and approachable and helped a lot to improve my bowling.

Venkatesh Prasad, who took charge as the UP coach this season, has been of great help. There is so much one can learn from him.

The way he managed the team and the players this season -- it has been very good. Our performance has improved under him.

Test cricket involves bowling through the day. It can be tiring when playing in the hot conditions in India.

Having played domestic cricket for five years, I have learnt a lot of things about how to bowl in these conditions.

In the Ranji Trophy I have encountered a lot of situations that you may come across in Test cricket -- like bowling long spells or fielding for two days in a row. That experience will come in handy.

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Image: Praveen Kumar, now in trouble with the BCCI, has 'helped a lot to improve my bowling,' says Bhuvneshwar Kumar.

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'Right now, I am not thinking of increasing my speed'

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We noticed in the ODIs that you are not someone who overdoes things. You just work on the batsmen's patience.

My bowling style is such that when it swings, I don't try too many things. I just keep it simple.

I look to keep it in the right areas and trouble the batsmen.

I don't bowl at 140kmph or 150kmph, so my best chance of getting the batsmen out is by bowling in the right areas and getting it to swing.

Have you ever looked at adding pace?

I am aware that if I increase my pace, then I will become more difficult to play.

But I am not thinking of only improving my speed. My primary focus is working on the swing and improving it every day because that is my big strength.

As I keep playing more matches, I am sure my speed will automatically improve.

Right now, I am not thinking of increasing my speed.

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Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Photographs: BCCI
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'I can definitely contribute with the bat'

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Do you pay special attention to batting in the practice sessions?

I play as an all-rounder in domestic cricket. I can definitely contribute with the bat. But I don't put stress on myself and think I have to score runs.

My main focus is on bowling. At the same time, I will make as much a contribution as possible with the bat.

Do you think this Australian team is a weak batting side?

Australia is one of the best sides to play cricket. I played against Pakistan, which was a high profile series. Having done well against them, I am confident going into the Australia series.

It is not that the Australian team is weaker. Some of their experienced players, who scored a lot of runs, have retired. You cannot take them lightly as they have selected the best cricketers from Australia to play against us.

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Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Photographs: BCCI

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'We will return to our winning ways'

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India's leading fast bowlers are missing the Australia series because of injuries. You will be expected to lead the bowling attack along with Ishant Sharma and Ashok Dinda.

Do you consider this additional pressure?

There is always a lot of responsibility on fast bowlers in Test cricket. You are expected to pick 20 wickets to win a match.

In Indian conditions the spinners are expected to do most of the work with the ball.

As a pace bowler you need to support them by taking some early wickets. My role will be to make the early breakthroughs.

India didn't have a good time in the Test series against England, losing 2-1. Do you think the team can bounce back against Australia?

Whatever happened against England is past. Everyone is confident going into this Test series. The results will be in our favour this time.

I think we will return to our winning ways.


Image: Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Photographs: BCCI
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