IPL: Praveen Kumar Given a Great Chance by Mumbai Indians

Chris Teale@@chris_tealeFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2014

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 03:  Umpire Billy Doctrove and Praveen Kumar of India point to the crowd during the Twenty20 warm up match between India and Pakistan at The Brit Oval on June 3, 2009 in London, England.  (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)
Hamish Blair/Getty Images

The Mumbai Indians moved fast to replace the injured Zaheer Khan, bringing in another Indian seamer in Praveen Kumar to fill the void left by Khan.

The 35-year-old was ruled out of the rest of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after straining his left latissimus dorsi muscle, having played six games but having struggled a little for consistency.

For the 27-year-old Kumar, this represents a golden chance to make his case for a return to international cricket with India and to re-assert himself as one of his country’s better seam bowlers.

He went unsold in the player auction earlier this year, but he has been successful in previous years of the tournament with Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab with his right-arm medium pace.

Last year, his 12 wickets came in 15 matches with an economy rate of just 6.62 runs per over, showing he has plenty to offer in this bonanza of Twenty20 cricket.

However, Kumar has not been without his problems since his last game for India in 2012, against South Africa, both in terms of fitness and discipline.

Aijaz Rahi/Associated Press

After spending the 2013 IPL season with Kings XI Punjab, injuries ruled Kumar out of India’s Ranji Trophy for the entire 2013-14 season.

Earlier last year, he had also been mired in controversy after swearing at an opposition batsman during a Corporate Trophy game while playing for Oil and Natural Gas Limited.

He was then suspended for the preliminary stages of the Vijay Hazare Trophy after being found to be in breach of the players’ code of conduct, although that was later revoked by the BCCI.

While he may not quite be in the last-chance saloon, this year’s IPL represents a superb chance for Kumar to prove himself and force his way back into the international conversation.

In the past, he has shown himself to be enormously capable of taking wickets even though his pace is relatively low compared to other seamers in the tournament.

This year, too, players like Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma have shown that those who can swing the ball can be successful, even without express pace.

It has not been an easy ride for Praveen Kumar over the last couple of years, but this chance given to him by the Mumbai Indians represents a superb opportunity.

If he can take advantage of it and put his previous problems behind him, it may well be a very profitable one all round.