The T20 series between India and England that begins on Friday will see the return of pace bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar to the international fold after well over a year. India will bank on his experience, especially in the absence of Jasprit Bumrah, who is sitting out of this series due to his marriage early next week.
While most of last year was lost due to Covid-19, the right-arm pace bowler limped out of last year's Indian Premier League (IPL), which saw the resumption of Indian cricket. The thigh injury, sustained in a match for SunRisers Hyderabad on October 2, meant that he couldn't be considered for the tour of Australia.
The swing bowler, who returned to competitive action in January, during the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament for Uttar Pradesh last played for India in December, 2019 in a T20 International against West Indies.
In his first game after recovering from injury in January this year, the 31-year-old picked three wickets for 22 runs in his four-over spell. But since then, he picked just one more wicket in three T20 matches of Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
In the five one-day games for Uttar Pradesh during the Vijay Hazare Trophy last month, Bhuvi could manage just four wickets although the tournament was more of a comeback for him.
India skipper Virat Kohli said that the right-arm pace bowler is shaping well and will be an important cog in India's wheel during the series.
"He is shaping up really well since his comeback. He is fit. He has worked really well to get back to 100 per cent fitness. He is a smart operator with the ball. We have all seen that for the last few years. He continues to bring that experience on to the field which is going to be vital for us," Kohli told the media on Thursday.
Kohli added that Bhuvneshwar's experience and his ability to bowl in different phases of the match will come good and handy for the team.
"He has a clear understanding of what he wants to do in the next few months and he wants to contribute towards many more Indian victories in the coming months, especially in the T20 World Cup where we will need our most experienced bowlers.
"He is right up there with the others with the new ball, through the middle overs and at the death as well. He is a guy you can bank on. We are very glad to have him back. Hopefully, he can build strongly from here and be as ready as he is now for the world cup," said Kohli.
Bhuvneshwar is known to bowl miserly in the death overs especially in the IPL for SunRisers Hyderabad. That is a quality India will be looking forward to in the series especially in the absence of Bumrah.