Praveen Kumar had everything to become a domestic cricket legend: limited pace but ability to swing the ball both ways, persistence to bowl long spells, and an almost intuitive knowledge of how to take wickets on unresponsive Indian wickets. But he took his limited pace and remarkably smart application of that ability to a higher level. He was India’s best bowler during a disastrous Test tour of England in 2011 – his name is on the Lord’s honours board – and was remarkably miserly in ODI cricket. Among his best achievements is the match-winning spell he bowled against Australia in the final of the 2007-08 CB Series.
Praveen is from the western part of Uttar Pradesh, which produces, what he called, “strong, tough boys.” He was in his late teens when local coach Sanjay Rastogi pulled him into mainstream club cricket and by the time he was 19, he had graduated to playing first-class cricket. Playing party to his quick rise was his ability to swing the ball, for which he was called “jaadugar” [magician] back home in Meerut.
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