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THE CASE FOR REPLACING GILL WITH BHUVNESHWAR

It may be an unpopular opinion, but in English conditions, a bowler like Bhuvneshwar is going to be more dangerous than Jasprit Bumrah.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar nets
Bhuvneshwar Kumar is currently with India's white-ball squad in Sri Lanka. (Credit: BCCI)

Shubman Gill’s mysterious injury has made him unavailable for the India versus England five-match Test series. The replacement for the opening batsman has not been announced yet and in this blog, I will put forth the case for why Bhuvneshwar Kumar may be the perfect choice to replace him.

Bhuvneshwar was trending on social media during the World Test Championship final despite not being in the squad, because the Indian fast bowling attack’s inability to swing the ball in friendly conditions made fans cry for the 31-year-old medium-pacer. This, despite the fact that his last first-class match was a Test in South Africa back in January 2018.

The Indian fast bowling unit which is currently in England comprises mostly of seam bowlers, with Mohammed Siraj the only one who can be referred to as a swing bowler. But he was not picked in for the WTC final, which India lost to top-ranked New Zealand.

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Apart from Siraj, the likes of Ishant Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Shardul Thakur are seam dominant bowlers. In the WTC final, the three quicks that India selected (Bumrah, Ishant and Shami) were not able to utilise the conditions as well as the Kiwis did.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar Test
Bhuvneshwar Kumar has not played a Test match since January 2018. (Credit: BCCI)

It may be an unpopular opinion, but in English conditions, a bowler like Bhuvneshwar is going to be more dangerous than Bumrah. In four Tests there, Bumrah has picked up 14 wickets at an average of 32.5 with one five wicket haul. In five Tests, Bhuvneshwar has 19 wickets at an average of 26.63 with a couple of five-fors.

I am not suggesting for a moment that Bumrah be replaced with Bhuvneshwar. I am merely trying to make a case for his inclusion into the squad now that India has an opportunity to do so.

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A pacer for an opening batter may not look ideal, but the Indian squad has already two openers in Mayank Agarwal and KL Rahul, so bringing in another one just doesn’t make any sense to me. Instead, the management should try to fill the void of an out and out swing bowler in the squad by drafting in Bhuvneshwar.

He has had his injury issues and that’s the only reason why he was not included in the Test squad, but Bhuvneshwar should be doing all right after such a long gap, rehab and match time in the IPL and the upcoming white-ball tour of Sri Lanka.

A bowler who bowls at a lower speed and has the ability to swing the bowl in the air is always going to be a dangerous one to face in England, and Bhuvneshwar has the mastery over this art form.

He is 31 and may not have many England tours left in him given his injury issues. He has also put an end to the rumours of him being not interested in playing red-ball cricket via a social media post. Bhuvneshwar looks ready to play the longer format if the selectors want him to. Now that they have an opportunity to bring a player in place of injured Gill, I truly believe that Bhuvneshwar is the only one that makes sense.

Written by Vaskar

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