Parvinder Awana and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, fast bowlers both, hugely motivated, ambitious to make it “big” and sporting an inseparable smile can hardly be the best ambassadors for their trade. They greet you with a “Namaste” and rarely sledge at the batsmen. They hardly behave like fast bowlers.

But they transform into fierce competitors once they step into the arena, giving nothing away, plotting their opponents’ fall, aiding their captain with vital breakthroughs.

This is a striking similarity that Awana and Bhuvnesh share, to pack off the batsman with some clever thinking.

Awana, 26, comes from Harola in Noida, a satellite township near Delhi. “I belong to a farming family but we have no land now. Just a house,” Awana is brutally candid. He has been slogging for eight years now; playing first class cricket since 2007.

“But I don’t have a job,” he confesses. He supports his family with earnings from cricket. If hat means playing three matches in a day, so be it. “I know nothing other than cricket,” says Awana.

Bhuvnesh, 22, hails from Muzaffarnagar. The area is known for its rough ways but strangely this cricketer did not pick any of the aggressive instincts of western Uttar Pradesh where only the fittest can survive and thrive.

At the Nauchandi fair, his father Kiranpal Singh, now posted as a sub-inspector in Baghpat, was flabbergasted when Bhuvnesh insisted on buying a plastic bat and ball instead of the other colourful toys on sale. “I had no clue about cricket but a time came when he wanted a bat that cost Rs. 700,” remembered the proud father. Now that was half his salary.

The soft-spoken Bhuvnesh got unstinted support from his parents and elder sister Rekha Rani. “My didi (elder sister) was my mentor and guide. Father hardly had time because of his police duty but didi ensured I did not lose my focus on cricket. She was a huge influence on me,’ said Bhuvnesh after his selection to the Indian team.

Amazing discipline

And then Bhuvnesh met Sanjay Rastogi, his coach in Meerut. “I never had to worry about him. He had amazing discipline. At the coaching centre, he was the most hard working. At home he would make his grandmother bowl to him. I like his temperament. He knows his limitations and exploits them to achieve his best,’ says Rastogi.

Awana was encouraged by his elder brother (Ratinder). “My brother had more belief in me. He dreamt for me, supported me, scolded me, laughed and cried with me. I come from a simple family. I hope I will give them more joy by playing for the country,’ said the gentle fast bowler from Delhi, who once had a huge laugh at “the polite jat from Noida” scribbled on the back screen of his dusty Swift.

For Bhuvnesh, cricket is about expressing himself. Actually, he hardly speaks. Sometimes his friends wonder how does he manage to appeal on the field?

Strong points

“I have my ways of saying things. I like the ball to talk. Line and length is my strong point,’ says Bhuvnesh, who has, of late, developed an out-swinger to his lethal natural in-swing. Rhythm defines his bowling.

“He is a serious student of the game, doesn’t react needlessly to provocations, always wanted to open with the bat and ball, and loved kites,” his coach said. Bhuvnesh is yet to learn to fly a kite even though his collection at home swells every year.

Deceptive

Awana is deceptive. His pace off the pitch can surprise many. Bhuvnesh likes to test the batsmen too with his accuracy, making them play and miss, play and miss, and then striking with a subtle change of pace and direction. Awana can bowl long spells.

“Delhi cricket taught me to be competitive and unsparing. I can bowl the whole day and whole night,’ Awana emphasises. “Yes, he can bowl long spells with the same pace,” confirms Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya.

Bhuvnesh releases the ball fluently, the non-striker hardly noticing his arrival at the crease. Awana makes his presence felt, running strongly and a grunt declaring his finish. Both are good with the new and old ball, Awana probably better.

“He is raw and uses the old ball well. On placid pitches, he is the team’s greatest strength,” observes statemate Amit Bhandari.

Fame beckons them with India selection. They know their job well. Awana wants to serve long. Bhuvnesh aims to make the most of this break. Indian cricket can expect these two well-mannered fast bowlers to flower with proper backing.


  • Awana is deceptive, while Bhuvnesh tests batsmen with accuracy


  • More In: SPORT | Today's Paper