HE was in the middle of a dream spell,having just sent back Mumbai openers Wasim Jaffer and Vinayak Samant. But then,18-year-old UP paceman Bhuvneshwar Kumar suddenly froze. For years,there has been a consensus in world cricket that Sachin Tendulkars presence at the crease is intimidating,and so the 12-match-old youngster from Meerut was expectedly nervous.
His in-coming ball,which had accounted for both openers,wasnt quite hitting the spot and his effort to generate extra pace against Tendulkar was proving counter-productive. Fearing that his teams trump card might lose his rhythm,UPs bowling coach Ashish Winston Zaidi walked up to have a word with him. I just told him to relax. I said,at worst,hell hit you for six sixes in an over,he wont take your life, Zaidi told The Indian Express.
A couple of overs later,Bhuvneshwar got a ball to dart back from outside the off-stump and Tendulkar edged it onto his pads. The ball ballooned,and Shivakant Shukla at unorthodox short square-leg dived to catch it inches above the ground. Just like that,Bhuvneshwars days of anonymity were over. He went on to complete a fiver on Monday,but thats not his claim to fame. In days to come,quiz-masters will have Bhuvneshwar Kumar on their card when they ask the name of the bowler to get Tendulkar for his first duck in domestic First-Class cricket.
Bhuvneshwar said later that he had dreamt of getting Tendulkars wicket the night before the game. I spent the night thinking how to bowl to Tendulkar,but I never thought that this is how it would turn out, explained Kumar,who had figures of 24-7-65-5.
About six years ago,when 12-year-old Bhuvneshwar was taken to Victoria Park in Meerut by his elder sister Rekha,he didnt even know that playing cricket full-time was an option. But Bipin Vats,the coach responsible for the rise of two other UP bowlers,Praveen Kumar and Sudeep Tyagi,took him under his wing. And the son of a sub-inspector in the UP Police soon got hooked.
Bhuvneshwars 35 wickets for UP under-19 side got him a Ranji berth,and he was handed the new ball once Praveen Kumar and RP Singh were busy with national duty. But even when the players returned,UP skipper Kaif resisted the temptation to bowl him first change.
On Monday,too,Kaif didnt give the new ball to RP. We all know that he cant do much with old ball,he is the best with the new ball, said Kaif.
With the wickets of Jaffer,Sawant,Tendulkar,Nayar and Bahutule,the skippers faith was justified.