back icon


Mukesh Kumar - The new rising star of Indian fast bowling

Last updated on 04 Dec 2023 | 03:59 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
Mukesh Kumar - The new rising star of Indian fast bowling

A technically solid foundation, combined with his accuracy and yorkers, makes Mukesh Kumar one of the rare all-format pace bowlers in modern cricket.

Mukesh Kumar is not the four-letter word beginning with s. He is not young like Arshdeep. He is not quick like Umran. He is from Gopalganj, a decrepit town in Western Bihar. You can’t even point it out on a map. Frankly, if Mukesh Kumar were any more low-key, he would already be rolling under the ground. 

But still, here we are, talking about him right after yet another bilateral series win by India that will recede from our memories in time as hair recedes on a balding head. It’s because Mukesh Kumar deserves the limelight and all the razzmatazz that comes with it. 

The world would probably have gotten to know him when he bagged ₹5.5 crore in the IPL auction last year. However, for Mukesh, who was 29 then, the cricketing journey started much before when he prepared for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Bihar Police entrance exams but failed on fitness grounds. Then, because Bihar wasn’t eligible to feature in the Indian domestic circuit, Mukesh had to leave his home state, move to Kolkata, and do the hard yards for Bengal. 

Further, he had to fight many fitness issues that kept arising, and despite making his Ranji Trophy debut in Lahli in 2015, it took Mukesh eight more years to finally get to his dream - an India cap! 

That’s how long it took for him to reach the stage where people could finally watch his ability at the highest level. Those yorkers, that nagging accuracy on a good length, that measured action and the beautiful seam position that defines Mukesh Kumar today have been developed in those years of struggle. When he bowled in the series against Australia, all those skills with the ball and many other intangibles were on display that made him such a fascinating cricketer and a story to follow. 

His overall figures (an average of 36.5 at an economy of 9.1) in the four innings he bowled in the series don't exactly shout special. However, in a series where three times out of five, the 200 mark was breached, you can’t exactly say that a bowler with an economy of 9.1 was abjectly poor. 

Moreover, a finer breakdown of his numbers tells us that the deathovers are where he has excelled the most. In his four games, he bowled 42.9% dot balls in the 16-20 overs phase. In the last game at Bengaluru, he picked two crucial wickets in that phase, which derailed the Aussie chase further and eventually resulted in an Indian win. 

In the death, his yorkers are his biggest strength. Overall, 16.7% of all deliveries bowled by Mukesh Kumar in this series have just been yorkers, and on this length, he has given runs at only 4.5 per over, showing that not only is his Yorker frequently used, but it is hard to get away with as well. Additionally, a look at his beehive will also tell that 34% of all his balls have been hitting the stumps this series, which allows him to bowl tight lines and, when combined with the right length, become absolutely lethal with his skiddy pace. 

You see, Mukesh isn’t a 140kmph or above kind of a pacer. He relies on doing the basics right, keeps it at the stumps on a length (36.5% of his balls fell on a length this series), and nails his yorkers at the death. 

Simple. Efficient. Effective. 

In this way, he’s not very different from Mohammad Shami. And even if he is, there are so many similarities in Shami and Mukesh’s journey and bowling styles that it becomes hard to ignore. The beautiful wrist position helping them keep the seam upright and then landing it on the seam, that nagging habit of hitting the stumps, nailing yorkers, the skiddy nature of their bowling and also how they both turned up for Bengal in domestic cricket when their home state couldn’t provide them the apt pathway. 

However, Shami’s extra 4-5kmph of pace allows him to regularly breach the 140kmph barrier and enter the league of bowlers who can be described by four-letter words beginning with s. Mukesh Kumar’s average speed in this series was around 135 kmph. He is not a part of the club, and honestly, he doesn’t need to be express to stand out. The solid foundation of his bowling allows his skills to be transferred to all three formats. 

The Indian team management recognised that early, and now, Mukesh Kumar is one of India's few all-format fast bowlers alongside Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammad Siraj and Mohammad Shami. Once paired with them, Mukesh’s nagging accuracy and ball skill can prove even more lethal. 

This 30-year-old guy from Gopalganj, Bihar, who was back on the field the next day of his marriage, will be on a flight to South Africa as the only pacer to be a part of the squad in all three formats. Now, when a boy or a girl from Bihar wants to play cricket for India, they would follow the example of Mukesh Kumar - the new rising star of Indian bowling. 

Related Article