Rahane: Serial bench-warmer or happy headache?
PRINT RUN: Praveen's coaching ambition, the fascinating tale of Solomon Mire, CSA miffed, Australia's selection dilemma, and more
Praveen Kumar is a fast bowler with a difference. He doesn’t have great pace, but has a huge heart, the ability to swing the ball both ways quite prolifically and a huge dollop of street-smartness - factors that made him a domestic legend of sorts, where he was Uttar Pradesh’s one-stop solution for all tricky situations. In his debut first-class season in 2005-06, Praveen was the standout star, picking up 41 wickets and slamming 386 runs. He followed it up with an equally impressive second season, and it wasn’t long before he became a regular in the Indian limited-overs sides. A ten-wicket burst from four games when India beat Australia to win the 2007-08 Commonwealth Bank Series was the turning point, and since then, when fit, Praveen’s name has always figured in the team list. The question was whether he could translate that consistency to Test cricket as well. The answer, ordinarily, would be ‘no’. And so it was till the middle of 2011, when Zaheer Khan and a number of other Indian pacers went into the injury list. First in the Caribbean and then in England, Praveen not only came to the party, but even put up his hand to be counted as the strike bowler of the team. Nothing changed with his bowling, but that same old ability to strike at intervals saw him pick twelve wickets from three Tests in the West Indies and then fifteen from three Tests in England. For Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League, he was a stellar performer – primarily with the ball, at times with his lusty hits lower down the order too. And that’s what Kings XI Punjab had in mind when they spent good money to bring him to their fold prior to the 2011 auctions.