India vice-captain on the ongoing limited-overs tour of Sri Lanka, Bhuvneshwar Kumar said the pacer Deepak Chahar justified head coach Rahul Dravid's decision to promote him up the order by playing an “amazing” knock to help Team India win the second ODI and take a 2-0 lead in the three-match series against Sri Lanka.
Chahar played a brilliant knock of 69* at no.8, as well as, stitched an unbroken match-winning 84-run stand with Bhuvneshwar (19) for the 8th wicket to help India beat Sri Lanka by 3 wickets in the second ODI on July 20 (Tuesday) in Colombo. He also scalped two wickets in the game.
Bhuvneshwar said at the post-match virtual press conference: “Our aim was to play till the last ball, last over, so we wanted to take it as deep as possible, so we can score runs. The only plan was to play till the last, and the way Deepak batted was amazing.”
Praising Chahar, Kumar further said: “Look, he has played under coach Rahul Dravid before in India A or some series and he had scored there as well. So, Dravid knew that he can bat and he can hit a few balls, so that was Dravid's call. And the way he batted, Chahar proved it right. We all know that he can bat, he has batted in Ranji Trophy many times, so it wasn't a tough call but it is good to see the way he scored the runs.”
Chasing 276 to win the second ODI, India was teetering at 193 for 7 but Chahar and Bhuvneshwar managed to guide India to a memorable win with five balls to spare in Colombo.
On their plan at the middle, Bhuvneshwar said: “The only chat and plan was to play till the end. We never said to each other that from here on, we can win. Even when we needed 1 run (3 runs), we were taking one ball at a time. Deepak never let the run rate go above six.”
The seamer further added, “He almost played risk-free shots, where he got few boundaries and brought the required rate to under six. At no stage did we think that we are going to win or lose. We were playing according to the situation and taking it ball by ball.”
He further said Dravid was very happy with the team’s performance in the second ODI against Sri Lanka.
The 31-year-old continued, “You get under tension, especially when you are sitting outside, you know this generally happens. I didn't see him much when I was batting, but when he came down, he just congratulated both of us and the entire team. He was very delighted, especially for the way we performed, when we were five-six down and then the way Deepak batted.”
He also hailed Chahar the way he delivers the knuckleball with perfection, saying: “Deepak has always been bowling knuckleballs. He has always had that and he is executing that well.”
On his own bowling, Kumar, who took 3 wickets in the 2nd ODI, said: “And as far as my bowling is concerned, in both the matches, it has been batting-friendly conditions and extremely hot. It becomes difficult for bowlers. I'm satisfied with the way I've bowled.”
He also ruled out any concerns regarding Hardik Pandya's fitness by saying: “As much as I know, there is no niggle or concern. So, I'm sure he's fine.”
India conceded 76 runs and 80 runs in the last 10 overs in the first and second ODI respectively and Bhuvneshwar said “it was a strategic part, you always look to bowl spinners, a few overs, after 40. Because there are five fielders outside the circle.”
He signed off by saying, “I don't think that's a concern that we have conceded 80 runs or 76 runs in the last 10 overs because the team always looks to score. As a bowling unit, we all are happy with the way we have bowled in the last two matches.”
(With PTI Inputs)