Bhuvneshwar Kumar played a big role in India’s win in the first T20I at Johannesburg over South Africa. Bhuvneshwar picked up 5/24, his best figures in T20I cricket, making him the second Indian bowler and first Indian pacer to pick up a fifer in T20Is.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar also became the first Indian bowler to pick up five wicket hauls in all the three international formats.
“What I was trying to do is bring about change of pace in my bowling. I just wanted to take the pace off the ball because I knew it won’t be easy to hit the ball and that’s what I did. The important thing is how you mix your deliveries according to the wicket,” Kumar said.
“For instance, today (Sunday) we bowled a lot of slow balls. It was a part of our strategy on this wicket, to do away with pace and make it difficult for the batsmen to score. Apart from line and length, it is important to understand how you want to mix your deliveries. It matters. Today, for instance, it was about bowling slow,” he said in the press conference.
Shikhar Dhawan scored 72 off 39 balls to give India the nitro boost they needed at the start of the innings, on a flat Johannesburg pitch after being asked to bat first.
“Whenever India goes abroad, the reputation is that India are not good at batting against short bowling. This time we haven’t seen that thing. We have really tackled it well. Today they bowled 5-6 overs of short bowling to us early on and it really backfired on them. Whatever the reputation we had, in the last few years we are playing totally opposite of that. We have managed the short ball pretty well on this tour. They wanted to bowl short but it didn’t really work well for them,” he said.
Bhuvneshwar was all praises for the whole Indian team, saying, “It was a complete performance from us. When we went in there, we knew what we wanted to do as best as a bowling team,” said Kumar. “We lost the first two Test matches and then we came back. The momentum was on our side and if momentum is on your side, you have got to make it count. Credit has to go the Indian team for the way we have played in every department,” he added.
“First thing, it comes with fitness. It’s not easy playing all three formats, especially on a single tour. So the first thing before coming here what I wanted to do is manage workload. I wanted to practice but in a specific way, so as to not put extra workload on the body,” he said when asked about how he has managed to keep his pace up despite his workload on the tour.
“The credit goes to the entire team because individual performances don’t matter. We stayed together and that’s what worked. For instance, we didn’t win the first two Tests but from the third Test, the momentum went our way. So it wasn’t about just one person. It’s about each and every player, and the support staff and the management to everyone,” Kumar added.
When notified of him becoming the first Indian pacer to pick up five wickets in a T20I match, Kumar said, “Taking wickets means a lot to me when you play for your country. It doesn’t matter if you take five wickets or how many as long as you’re winning matches for your country. That’s what matters and taking fifers in every format feels good. I want to do it as long as possible.”
Bhuvneshwar revealed that India losing the toss gave him a chance to see what the pitch was doing and he planned his strategies according to the same.
“After we batted, we had a certain idea of the kind of wicket we would be bowling on after what we saw. But the whole picture begins to emerge only after you’ve bowled because it depends on the bowlers,” he said.
“Look at their bowlers, they’re of a different height and have different skill sets. So you get an idea but as I said, the whole thing emerges only after you’ve bowled a few balls. For instance, if I’ve bowled the first over, I can communicate with the rest of the bowlers what’s happening on the wicket, like that,” he added.
Bhuvneshwar stressed that they cannot be taken lightly, “If you look at the one-day series and now, yes they’ve been vulnerable. But South Africa is not that kind of team (to be considered fragile). It happens to any team in the world when things don’t go your way or plans don’t fall in place but that doesn’t mean they’re a weak team or they’re not a good team.”