India vs South Africa: No Kapil Dev in sight but for now India could do with Bhuvneshwar Kumar

The tour of South Africa, to all intents and purposes, has been the coming of age for India medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. 

India vs South Africa: No Kapil Dev in sight but for now India could do with Bhuvneshwar Kumar
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The tour of South Africa, to all intents and purposes, has been the coming of age for India medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar. 

Since his initial ODIs against Pakistan in 2012-13, he has come a long way having had his fair share of ups and downs.  

Bhuvneshwar at first impressed with his ability to swing the ball but later in order to add yards of pace, he lost some of his swing, and that brought down his success rate significantly.

The Indian Premier League provided him with a big opportunity to hone his skills. He increased his pace significantly, learnt death-overs bowling, although at the expense of the prodigious swing he put on view in his early days in international cricket. Later, the highly-effective knuckle ball also found a place in his armoury.  

Despite his IPL success, however, Bhuvneshwar continued to stay in the second string as far the national team was concerned. The big break came during India's tour of England when he shared the Man-of-the-Series honour with James Anderson with 247 runs (three fifties) and 19 wickets in a five-Test series in 2014.  

In all honesty, even after that things didn't change drastically as reliability remained an issue. Match-winning Test five-fors against the West Indies and New Zealand spangled this period in 2016 though.

Bhuvneshwar may have got mixed success but there was no denying he was always working hard to stay relevant in a game that saw bowlers like S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Irfan Pathan and many others fade away despite getting a blistering start to their respective careers.

All those efforts came to fruition, one can safely say, during the ongoing tour of South Africa and for the first time in his career, Bhuvneshwar completely looked the part in the Indian team and international cricket.

But not before he had to prove his credibility through a fire test. Despite performing well in the first Test (six wickets and 38 runs), he was dropped for the second game. The move gave rise to widespread criticism of Virat Kohli and his leadership skills.

He justly returned for the third and last and again gave a good account of himself as India won the Test after Mohammed Shami ran through the  South Africa batsmen in the second innings. 

In the following ODI series, he continued to do well and played his part to a tee in India's 5-1 thrashing of South Africa. 

And then continuing his success story he became the first Indian bowler in history to take a five-for in all forms of cricket as he returned 5/24 in the first T20I of a three-game series at the Wanderers on Sunday.

At the post-match press conference, the 28-year-old won more hearts after opining that winning matches for India was the only thing that mattered to him.  

"Taking wickets means a lot when you play for your country. Doesn't matter if you take five wickets or how many as long as you're winning matches for your country. That's what matters, and taking five-fors in every format feels good. I want to keep doing it as long as possible." 

Within a matter of weeks, Bhuvneshwar has undoubtedly become Virat Kohli's most-trusted general in the bowling department. Hardik Pandya may have drawn comparisons with the legendary Kapil Dev but it's Bhuvneshwar who has put in the hard work and delivered the results needed to be compared to the great Indian all-rounder.

Still, let's not even suggest that Bhuvneshwar will be the next Kapil Dev. That will be preposterous. First, players like Kapil don't burst on the scene that often. Second, there is no real need for any Indian player to be like him. 

Whatever Bhuvneshwar has done in the last few months, that's good enough. India could do a lot with that, especially in the World Cup to be held in England and Wales next year.  

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