Bhuvneshwar Kumar has proven his ability with the new ball in conditions where bowlers get some assistance from the pitch; but his real test will be in the West Indies.
On June 20, 2011, Praveen Kumar, a medium-pacer from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, made his Test debut for India at Sabina Park in Jamaica. He took six important wickets in the match and helped India win the first Test by 63 runs. More than two years later, on the same ground, another pacer from Meerut, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, could get a chance to play his first international match in the Caribbean when India face West Indies in their first ODI match of the Celkon Mobile Cup triangular series.
India have always had a paucity of bowlers with the ability to swing the ball with control and decent pace. Praveen showed some good prospect swinging the ball in helpful conditions during India's tour of the West Indies and England in 2011. However, the lack of consistency, injuries and his unruly behaviour in a Corporate Trophy match has kept him away from the field for quite some time now.
Bhuvneshwar looks like a perfect replacement for Praveen, his Uttar Pradesh team-mate. He has almost the similar pace and can swing the ball both ways. The medium-pacer had a decent outing in English conditions and has been one of the reasons behind India's success at the Champions Trophy. His ability to dismiss top-order batsmen and get early breakthroughs has made him an asset for the team in very little time.
So far the 23-year-old has played 13 ODIs from which he has taken 15 wickets with a decent average of 30.13, and had an impressive economy rate of 4.14 per over. Bhuvneshwar has proven his ability with the new ball and the conditions where bowlers get some assistance from the pitch; but his real test will be in the West Indies, where the pitches don't have much to offer for swing bowlers like him.
Bhuvneshwar has not played much cricket on bouncy wickets, and the wickets in the West Indies tend be more helpful to pace bowlers like Umesh Yadav, who can hit the deck hard. His strengths have been: bowling in good areas, bowling full and keeping the batsman guessing, and most importantly, his ability to swing and having control of it. After his dream debut against Pakistan, where he picked up the wicket of Mohammad Hafeez on his first international delivery, Bhuvneshwar has been a regular member of the Indian squad. MS Dhoni has shown confidence in his abilities and this could be a good signal for the youngster.
One more thing that is common between Bhuvneshwar and Praveen, other than their surname and their hometown, is their lack of ability to bowl in the death overs. He needs to bowl a lot of yorkers, slower balls and slower bouncers. If he can learn the trick of getting the reverse swing with the old ball, then he can be a very useful bowler not only in the West Indies but anywhere in the world. Bhuvneshwar, who first came into limelight after getting out Sachin Tendulkar for his first duck in domestic cricket, is still at the start of his career, and this tour of the West Indies will be a big test for him.