Raw Deal For Bhuvi & Shardul As Beaten England Handed Consolation Prizes
The England team left Indian shores empty-handed, losing all three series in different formats. But the adjudicators of Player of the Match and Series made sure the visitors took home both those prizes as ‘consolation’.
Sam Curran was declared Man of the Match in the final ODI for a brave and gutsy unbeaten 95, which kept England in the hunt till the final over. But the fact of the matter is that the young all-rounder could not finally take his team over the line.
As for Man of the Series, Jonny Bairstow got the nod for his two explosive knocks in the first two games. But on the day of reckoning, when England needed him to fire in the series decider on Sunday evening, Bairstow came a cropper and was trapped leg-before wicket by the crafty Bhuvneshwar Kumar for just 1 run.
Even skipper Virat Kohli couldn’t hide his disappointment with the choices.
“I’m surprised Shardul (Thakur) wasn’t Man of the Match, and Bhuvi wasn’t Man of the Series. A lot of credit to them for bowling so well in adverse conditions,” said Kohli, who is known to always speak his mind.
There were many who agreed with Kohli. And with good reason, too.
Shardul has turned out to be Team India’s man with the golden arm, getting crucial wickets at important junctures of a match — be it T20 Internationals or ODIs. On Sunday, Shardul bagged 4/67, and was singularly responsible for snuffing out England’s potentially dangerous middle-order by dismissing stand-in captain Jos Buttler, Dawid Malan and Liam Livingstone.
Shardul contributed with the bat too, smashing 30 off 21 balls with 3 sixes, to ensure India got close to a par score after losing the wickets of rampaging Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya in quick succession.
Clearly, Shardul was a bigger game-changer compared to Curran. There would have been no questions asked about Curran getting the Man of the Match accolade had England won the game and series.
Likewise, if one player had to be picked for having the maximum influence on the result of the series, it should have been Bhuvneshwar. A swing bowler with enviable skills, Bhuvi put the skids on the power-packed England batting line-up — both at the start of the innings and in death overs. His figures of 9-0-30-2 and 10-0-42-3 in the first and third ODIs, respectively, were instrumental in restricting England as they chased gettable targets in both those games.
He was comparatively less effective (1/63) in the second match, which England won with plenty to spare.
Overall, Bhuvi captured six wickets in the series at an impressive economy rate of 4.65 runs an over, especially as all matches were played on batting-friendly pitches. Bhuvi’s performance was all the more creditable as he was making a comeback from injury.