Once a key figure in the Indian bowling attack in the limited-overs formats and a trusted lieutenant of captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
But poor form and injuries sidelined him and when he went unsold in the Indian Premier League auction it appeared Praveen Kumar’s career had reached a dead end.
However, Mumbai Indians presented him a lifeline when their left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan was ruled out of the tournament with a side strain.
The 27-year-old swing bowler grabbed the opportunity and came up with a fantastic display in his first match for the defending champions against heavyweights Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday.
Though Mumbai lost the match, Kumar’s swing bowling was a huge positive for the struggling franchise.
The highlight was the manner in which he had Dwayne Smith in a bind in his second over as the Chennai opener played and missed four deliveries in succession.
Kumar, who last played for India two years ago, is now determined to improve upon his 2-31 showing and make an even bigger impact.
With 67 wickets from 83 IPL games, the former Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab bowler has the experience and pedigree to get back into the spotlight.
He said: “I am just elated to be back in the IPL. It is nice to show that I am completely fit and I still have it in me to perform with the ball.
“I was very disappointed when I was not picked in the auction. I was gutted that I hadn’t got a chance to play on a platform where I have been playing for so long.
"There came a point at that time when I actually stopped getting out of my house, thinking what people would talk about me and feared if they would ask me different kinds of questions. But slowly, I started getting out and all the negativity faded off.
“I was extremely happy when I got a call from Mumbai Indians to represent them in the IPL. I couldn’t sleep that night, and all of a sudden, I became a lot more positive.”
Kumar, who dismissed both Chennai openers Smith and Brendon McCullum feels he is still a work in progress.
“I feel I could have bowled a lot better (against Chennai) and conceded fewer runs. Hopefully, I can take more wickets and give away fewer runs in the matches to come.”
Stung by the loss at home, Mumbai will be looking to improve their showing when they take on a buoyant Sunrisers Hyderabad tonight.
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