Would have taken ages to bowl like Bhuvneshwar: Kapil Dev

Laurels are pouring in for Bhuvneshwar Kumar but none bigger than what he received from India’s first ever World Cup winning captain Kapil Dev. Bowled over by Kumar’s bowling performance, Kapil said it would have taken him ages to bowl like Kumar.

Kumar, on Sunday, became the first Indian bowler to claim a five-wicket haul across formats after the medium pacer bowled India to a 28-run win in the first T20I against South Africa at Johannesburg.

“The kind of form Bhuvi is in, it would have taken me ages to bowl like him,” Kapil told Wah Cricket in an exclusive chat.

Kapil, a master of outswing during his playing days, was particularly impressed by Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s most potent weapon – the knuckle ball.

“Kumar deserves a lot of credit for mastering one of the most difficult deliveries. To hit the correct line and length every time, is not easy by any means. You can bowl unorthodox spin, bowl from back of the hand, but to bowl the knuckle ball with such control is commendable.”

Four of his five wickets on Sunday night was a result of a perfectly executed knuckle ball. His first victim was JJ Smutts, when he was going strong on 14. Kumar then foxed South African captain JP Duminy (7) and finally, he polished off the South African middle order by picking up three wickets – two of them, the well-settled Hendricks (70) and Morris (0), with the knuckle ball in one over.

“Apparently it seems very easy but the biggest challenge is to attain control. You have to fox the batsman, force him to go through his shot early, while maintaining your original bowling action,” said Kapil.
“I have tried it myself many a times, but either it was a full toss or a short delivery,” added Kapil.

For Kumar too is not something that came overnight. It took him a whole year just to get the execution right.

Explaining the effectiveness of the knuckle ball, Kapil said, the difficulty lies in the pace variation.

“There is no change in the bowlers’ rhythm but the ball comes out slower because of the grip. So the batsman is already through with his shot and more often than not ends up scoping it in the air.”

“The batsmen are yet to find an answer to this, in the coming time, they might well be able to combat this… but it is bowlers like Bhuvneshwar, who will keep on asking questions.”

Very few bowlers in international cricket have a knuckle ball in their armory, which was first used by former India left-arm seamer Zaheer Khan. Australian T20 specialist, Andre Tye is another exponent of the knuckle ball, apart from Kuma, which Kapil believes is the most difficult delivery to execute.

 “Bowlers came up with split finger slower balls, mystery spinners tried different things but I believe, the knuckle ball is the hardest.”

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