Former India pacer, Praveen Kumar takes a trip down memory lane as he opens up on the strategies which dismantled the Australian batting line-up in the second final of the 2008 Commonwealth Bank Series.
India won the first final at the SCG on the back of Sachin Tendulkar’s magnificent hundred. In the second final at The Gabba, with the help of Tendulkar’s 91, India posted a total of 258. Australia faltered early in their chase when Praveen Kumar struck thrice in the powerplay dismissing Adam Gilchrist, Ricky Ponting, and Michael Clarke. The hosts couldn’t recover from the early jitters and lost the final handing India its first-ever CB series victory in Australia.
I could get up from my sleep, step out, and bowl: Praveen Kumar
Praveen Kumar, in a recent interview with the news agency, IANS, said that he has the skill to outfox the batsman just by observing his feet movement and body language. On his memorable spell in Brisbane, Kumar reminisces that he had certain plans according to the batsman, and the pitch.
Talking about his first wicket that of Adam Gilchrist, the medium-pacer opined that the left-hander was vulnerable to the ball pitching up and swinging. Gilchrist, in what turned out to be his last ODI innings, tried to drive through the covers. The ball took an outside edge and was safely taken by wicket-keeper MS Dhoni.
Regarding an important wicket of, Ricky Ponting, Kumar had learned that the Aussie skipper is an excellent player of the pull short. Hence, he had to be careful while bowling short. Kumar bowled a hard-length delivery which hurried onto Ponting, and he mistimed his pull. The ball went straight into the hands of Yuvraj Singh at mid-on.
Speaking to IANS, Praveen Kumar said, “Let me tell you, I could catch a batsman by watching his feet and body language. That moment (Brisbane, 2008) I was just putting on display the art that I have. My bowling style dictated the areas I have to pitch and I was watching the wicket and bowling.
“‘Gilchrist paidal tha upar waali ball par’ (Gilchrist was vulnerable to the ball that used to be pitched up). Ponting, they used to say, he pulls the ball well. So I said, ‘isko pull par hi nikaalna hai’ (let us catch him on the pull),” he says before explaining the simple logic. I bowled short, he pulled and was caught at short mid-on (by Yuvraj).”
The Meerut-born pacer was a bit lucky versus Michael Clarke. He pushed the ball on the pitch, and it didn’t rise as much as Clarke expected. The right-hander missed his shot which resulted in a mess of the stumps. He castled Brett Lee to finish with a four-wicket haul. Kumar ended up with 10 wickets in the series in just 4 matches at an average of 17.5.
Kumar, who last played an international game in 2012, says that a bowler needs to use his brains and hands properly and could achieve success as a bowler. He reckons that a bowler will catch his natural length with time. The 34-year-old believes that he has practiced so much that he could get up from sleep and still be able to bowl well.
The right-hand-pacer retired from all forms of cricket in 2018. Known for his swing and seam movement, Kumar played 6 Tests, 68 ODIs, and 10 T20Is for India where he snared 27,77, and 8 wickets, respectively.
“‘Maine ball dabaai aur wo baith gayee’ (I pushed the ball on the pitch and it didn’t rise and went on at a very low trajectory). I got a bit lucky there. The pitch helped me on that one. But I am proud of the way I got Gilchrist.
When a bowler uses his hands (art) and brain, he can bowl even if he has just gotten up from sleep. You will naturally catch the good length if you have it in you. By God’s grace, I had practiced so much that even if I could get up from my sleep, I could step out and bowl,” he added.