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Bhuvneshwar Kumar replaced ill Ishant Sharma in Cape Town Test at the eleventh hour

Bhuvneshwar Kumar replaced ill Ishant Sharma in Cape Town Test at the eleventh hour

New Delhi, Jan 11: Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the best performer for India in the opening Test against South Africa as he shined with both bat and ball.

The right-arm pacer gave the tourists a dream start on the opening day by reducing the Proteas to 12/3 within the first thirty minutes of the day's play. He returned with 4/87 in the first innings and finished the second innings with 2/33. The strike pacer, however, missed out on a well-deserved fifer when Shikhar Dhawan dropped a sitter at slip cordon in first innings.

When it came to batting, it was Bhuvneshwar who performed well with the bat by scoring 25 and 13* in both the innings respectively. It was due to his 99-run stand with Hardik Pandya which helped his side recover from 92/7 and post 209 in the first innings.

Bhuvneshwar showed grit and patience in front of fiery pace quartet of the Proteas and even frustrated them at one stage with his resilience.

It is now being learnt that Bhuvneshwar wasn't the first choice of the team management for the opening Test. As per a Times of India report, senior pacer Ishant Sharma was all set to lead the pace battery alongside Mohammad Shami but Ishant suffered with illness hours before the start of the match forcing the team management to make the changes at the eleventh hour.

"Ishant woke up with a severe headache, bordering on the feverish and wasn't in the sort of condition that would make him eligible for the final XI. The team management, reportedly, had to select between Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav and it was the former who got the nod," claimed the TOI report.

However, skipper Kohli and head coach Ravi Shastri were crystal clear about handing over the debut cap to young Jasprit Bumrah. The Gujarat pacer, who made his debut in the Cape Town Test, didn't have a memorable outing in the first innings as the pressure of playing with the red ball seemed to have troubled him initially.

However, in the second innings, Bumrah looked in a better shape and justified his selection as he brilliantly complemented the other two senior pacers i.e. Mohammad Shami and Bhuvneshwar well.

It now seems that Bhuvneshwar has cemented his place in the side for the Centurion Test with his all-round show. Thus, it will be interesting to see who else, amongst pacers, gets picked up in the Playing XI for the second Test.

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    Story first published: Thursday, January 11, 2018, 14:40 [IST]
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