Praveen Kumar has learnt quickly how unforgiving Test cricket can be.
The India fast-medium bowler was bowling beautifully, getting the ball to swing prodigiously through the air and off the pitch, and putting West Indies under pressure with his three wickets for 38 runs from 18 overs on the second day of the first Test at Sabina Park.
His and the Indians’ joy soon turned to sorrow, when he received his third warning from Australian umpire Daryl Harper for landing in the protected area of the pitch while bowling, and was barred from the attack for the remainder of the innings.
Fortunate for India, their attack withstood this setback, and dismissed West Indies for 173 to gain a first innings lead of 73.
“It’s the very first time,” he said. “It has never ever happened to me. Nobody has ever spoken to me (in a match) about it.
“In a way it’s good that I found this out in my very first Test – I can now work on it.”
“I was bowling well and focussing on the batsmen, rather than at my follow through. I just didn’t remember I had been warned twice!”
Astonishingly, the 24-year-old Kumar is playing in only his first Test for India. He has been a regular face on the international circuit for the last four years, where he has been restricted to 52 one-day internationals and five Twenty20s for the national team.
Fortune however, favoured Kumar, and injury to Zaheer Khan and Shanthakumaran Sreesanth meant India had to dig deep in their reserves, and the selectors chose not to ask him to return home following the string of limited-overs matches that opened the tour of the Caribbean.
“To tell the truth, I never felt as if I was playing my first Test,” he said.
“I was quite enjoying myself and the ball was swinging either way.”
“In this heat, it was important I found my rhythm early. Fortunately, I found my rhythm after only two overs.”
Kumar concluded that he felt India had taken a crucial first innings lead, and needed to put themselves in an impregnable position on the third day.