During the second ODI with Sri Lanka last week, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled his first no-ball since 2015, a streak of over three-thousand fair releases of a cricket ball. It is a testament to the discipline and repeatability of the India seamer’s mesmerising action. Kumar was perhaps not at his best during that series, but in the first T20 International between the same sides on Sunday he produced the match-winning figures of 4-22, as India strolled to a 38-run victory.
Kumar, having taken nearly 200 white-ball wickets in a career spanning the best part of nine years, has a claim to sit atop any Indian limited overs bowler that has played before or alongside him. In the T20 series with England earlier this year he oozed class, and yet still seems to play second fiddle in an analytical psyche to the more “box office” and pacier likes of Jofra Archer, Mitchell Starc and Jasprit Bumrah.
India and England remain the two favourites for the T20 World Cup in October, and amidst the genius of Virat Kohli and ripening IPL fruits of Kishan and Krunal Pandya, Kumar could be his nation’s deciding factor. With England historically struggling in opening powerplays, the 31-year-old is conversely stingy with his economy at the start of the innings, and forces mistakes like few others.
With runs from Yadav and Dhawan, India’s strength in depth continues to grow, and thanks in large part to their metronomic, seam-presenting stalwart they look to be in clinical shape as a hugely inticing World Cup comes into view. If England fans have learnt anything from the past month, however, it is perhaps to not take thumping wins against an ailing Sri Lanka at face value.