Does anyone remember how Ajit Agarkar came and stormed the ODI world by becoming the fastest to take 50 wickets? He fizzled out soon after.
Then we had Irfan Pathan who used to take top order wickets with great regularity. Who can forget his first over hat-trick in a Test with Pakistan? He also faded away.
Now we have had another great debut in the form of Bhuvneshwar Singh. He impressed in the Test series we played against Australia on tracks that favoured spinners. He had an impressive international T20 debut too.
But he’s had performed consistently with his brief ODI career. He has picked up 25 wickets in 17 matches at a superlative average of 21.96. To put things in perspective, Glenn McGrath’s average is 22.02, Muttiah Muralitharan is 23.08 and Wasim Akram is 23.52.
However what really sets him apart is his economy rate. It currently stands at an unbelievable 3.97. That means that if Bhuvi bowled all 50 overs, then the opposition would be able to get only 198.5 runs on an average. In an era where 300 can easily be chased and 400 has been achieved many times that is simply superb.
Now if you check the record books, then you’ll find dozens of bowlers with an economy rate below 4. However all those come from an era when ODI scores were much lower. The economy rates of all ODI bowlers have been steadily going up every year.
For example recent retiree Brett Lee has a rate of 4.76 and Zaheer Khan 4.93. Out of current players, Dale Steyn stands at 4.92 and Lasith Malinga at 5.07.
There is not even one regular bowler from the Top 8 nations who debuted after 2000 who has an economy rate below 4. If Bhuvi can keep at it, then he could emerge as the most economical ODI bowler in the world.
And that is why he looks set for a long career. Both Agarkar and Pathan had economy rates of above 5 and would be really hit at times. Bhuvi has bowled in India, England and West Indies and so far batsmen have found it quite difficult to score runs off him.
That is why Bhuvi is effective. Even if he doesn’t pick up wickets, he will contain the runs and that will always put the batsmen under pressure. The encouraging part is that he does not rely on pace, so he is in no danger of suddenly slowing down and becoming ineffective like other Indian bowlers have become.
Even Zaheer in the later part of his career managed to do wonders with the slow ball.
He has played a total of 23 international matches in all forms of the game and has shown himself to be a quiet and calm worker. There doesn’t seem to be any danger of going the way of S Sreesanth who was extremely talented but just didn’t have the temperament.
He can swing the ball both ways and has shown great control over his deliveries. He can also bowl long spells and manages to keep the Opposition under check for the first 15 overs of the innings.
He’s no bunny with the bat and showed that in his Test debut match when he scored 38 runs off 97 balls and was also involved in a crucial 140-runs partnership with his captain MS Dhoni. Along with bowlers R Ashwin, we finally have a fight in the tail.
He had a sensational international T20 debut with figures of 4-0-9-3. Look at those figures again and you would be forgiven for thinking it was a Test match. He also took a wicket off his very first ball in his ODI career and hasn’t looked back since.
He has had a fairy tale start to his career. He was part of the first Indian Test team to affect a 4-0 whitewash and he was also part of the squad that won the ICC Champions Trophy.
Now he played a key role in the victory in the final of the triangular tournament in the West Indies with an impressive spell of 2-24. His man of the series award was the icing on the cake.
Here’s hoping that Bhuvi continues to keep a calm head on his shoulders and persists in choking the batsman to emerge as a long-term bowling option for India!
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/