Bhuvneshwar's fitness still a concern

Published on March 12, 2015 05:30:30 AM
PTI/ Melbourne : The doubts over Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s fitness continue to be a concern for the Indian cricket team ahead of its second World Cup pool game against South Africa as the seamer looked far from convincing during a net session here on Wednesday. Bhuvneshwar, who had suffered an ankle injury before the start of the Test series against Australia and only played the last Test in Sydney where he bowled way below his best, looked out of sorts and unfit at the Junction Oval ground of St Kilda Cricket Club here.
With Dhawal Kulkarni being kept as an additional member of the side, it seems that Bhuvneshwar’s gingerly demeanour has kept the team management worried. While the likes of Umesh Yadav, Mohammed Shami, Mohit Sharma hit their strides quickly, Bhuvneshwar cut a lonely figure standing at one end of the ground. Even when he came on to bowl, he could not trouble either Mahendra Singh Dhoni or Ambati Rayudu, who faced most of his deliveries. While there was a main net at the centre strip of the ground, there were four adjacent nets at one corner. Bhuvneshwar first went to the corner nets and did bat for quite a while. He batted against Yadav and took the throwdowns. After spending around 25 minutes at the nets, he did bowl at those nets with a short run-up.

However, while the trio of Umesh, Shami and Mohit were really seen bending their backs at the main net, Bhuvneshwar quietly stood in one corner of the ground (deep fine leg area for right-handers, third-man for the left-handers). He intently watched his other teammates practice and it seemed that he won’t come into bowl. However, he did roll his arms over to Rayudu, Dhoni and Ashwin after the likes of Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina had their turns at the nets against first XI bowlers.

What one gathered from Bhuvneshwar’s run-up to the crease, loading and follow-through clearly indicated that there’s still sometime before he can be termed match-fit. While Yadav was seen hurrying people like Dhoni and Kohli with his pace, Shami dug in the occasional short delivery effectively, Bhuvneshwar found it difficult to hit the right length as he was a yard short and at his pace which has dropped even further, his bowling was just like cannon fodder. From, Dhoni to Ashwin, everyone played the pull-shot against the UP seamer.

Rayudu, for one, charged down and hit him over square leg. The most disappointing aspect for Bhuvneshwar would be his sharp drop in pace from what he had till a year back. It was evident in Sydney during the fourth Test, where his deliveries in the third and fourth spells were in the range of 110-115 kmph. Bhuvneshwar did bowl close to 50 deliveries but not for once could he beat the bat of any of the batsmen, who faced him.

Hussey, Kirsten, Donald plotting India’s downfall
South Africa’s record against India in the World Cup has been an enviable 3-0, having convincingly won their matches in three editions (‘92, ‘99 and 2011), but the Proteas are leaving no stone unturned to make it 4-0 when the two teams square off at the MCG on Sunday. To combat the defending champions, the South African team management has brought in experience worth 26,845 runs and 602 wickets at the international level.
The runs are combined of what Messrs Gary Kirsten and Mike Hussey have scored at the international level across formats, while the wickets are Allan Donald’s collection during his 12 years in international cricket. The trio was seen keeping a hawk eye on the proceedings during South African team’s training session at the St Kilda’s Oval Junction ground. In fact, Hussey, who would again be playing in the eighth edition of IPL for Chennai Super Kings, was keeping a close eye on the batsmen, especially the likes of JP Duminy and Quinton de Kock as they were playing the spinners at the nets. 

A couple of left-arm spinners were seen bowling as Duminy and De Kock, along with Hashim Amla when they were batting in the nets. One of the net bowlers of Indian origin was asked if there was any specific instruction from the coaches, he smiled and said, "I have been told to try and bowl exactly what Ravindra Jadeja bowls”.