A lot of people dream big. To translate those dreams into reality is the stuff champions are made of. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India's latest bowling sensation closely follows this script. The 22-year-old from Kanpur was off to a perfect debut when he clean bowled Pakistan opener Mohammed Hafeez off his first delivery in Chennai ODI on December 30. With this feat, he became the lone Indian bowler to take a wicket off his first delivery on debut. Bhuvneshwar also had an very impressive debut in the T20 against Pakistan when he took 3 wickets conceding just 9 runs.
Though it is early days, it seems that the softspoken Bhuvneshwar could be the remedy to India's fast bowling woes. The 22-year-old from Kanpur showed that he is one of the best young exponents of swing bowling and can be quite a handful for the best in the world.
Bhuvneshwar said he started believing in his abilities when he dismissed maestro Sachin Tendulkar for a duck. "I was surprised when I got the prized wicket of Sachin for a duck in the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai in 2008. That instilled the confidence in me. After all, I had grown up idolising Sachin. And to get your idol for a duck in the final of Ranji Trophy made me believe in my abilities," he said.
Bhuvneshwar maintained that he needed to work harder now. "I have to work even harder now that I have done well in the initial phase. I have always worked hard and will continue to work harder," he promised.
Bhuvneshwar's coach Sanjay Rastogi remembers the day when the youngster came into his academy many years ago. "It was his sister Rekha who brought him into my academy years back. She was adamant that he had it in him to become a good bowler. I do not what it was—pure instinct or something more," he added.
Rastogi said that his ward had shown the will to improve. "He is always willing to learn. That is something which will keep him in good stead."
On her part, Rekha Adhana said, "Even at the age of 10 he displayed talent. I was sure that he would become a good bowler."
She said that Bhuvneshwar was always willing to push himself harder. "On countless occasions whenever Sanjay sir asked him to work harder or to put in some extra sessions, he used to do it with a smile. I think it is not enough if you have the talent. You must back it up with the willingness to work harder," she said.
When asked who his idol was Bhuvaneswar said it was fellow UP pacer Praveen Kumar and Sourav Ganguly. "I cannot tell you how much I owe to Praveen. He has mentored me a lot on the art of swing bowling. I have learnt valuable lessons from him. I also respect Sourav a lot."
Bhuvneshwar also thanked captain Dhoni for supporting and standing behind him in his debut match. "I have always watched him (Dhoni) on TV and thought what a good captain he is. Before this game he told me that although I am playing for India and it's a big thing, at the end of the day it's just another match. You have played a lot of cricket matches and this is one of them. He supported me right through my spell as well," he said.
Earns laurels from greats
Meanwhile, Bhuvneshwar has earned laurels from some of the leading former cricketers.
Kirti Azad, one of the members of the 1983 World Cup winning team, said that Bhuvneshwar had it in him to trouble the best. "His prodigious swing is going to be a real problem for many batsmen. I hope he not overburdened and has to be reared properly," he added.
Javagal Srinath said that the UP youngster could emerge as one of India's leading bolwers. "I have watched him closely in the T20 and the Chennai ODI. He has been quite a revelation and if he gets the right guidance, I am sure he will emerge as one of India's best."
Former Pakistan great Wasim Akram has encouraging words. Writing his weekly column in the Midday newspaper, the Paksitan great said," He bowled unbelievably well in the Chennai ODI and seems to get better with each game."
Such words of praise from someone like Wasim should spur Bhuvneshwar to greater heights.