Ever since Bhuvneshwar Kumar added miles to his deliveries, his economy rate suffered and wickets started to dry up. During last year’s India-South Africa series, he had a tough outing and was unable to bowl to a plan. Injury followed and it took him a while to return.
With the Sunrisers Hyderabad, he has taken nine wickets so far but has conceded runs at eight-an-over. In a chat, he shared how his focus is still on being India’s swing bowler and keeping his pace in the mid 130s.
Q. Playing for India and in IPL, your economy rate has shot up.
A. If you consider my India stint, I don’t think my economy is bad. But if you consider the IPL, I used to bowl three overs with the new ball and one over at the death or middle overs. As I settled down and became a senior bowler, the team had expectations and it takes more out of you. So even if you are bowling well there are chances you end up conceding seven runs an over. Also, when you play 14 matches a season, three games will have bad figures and affect the economy rate.
Q. Since the India-South Africa series last year your focus has shifted towards gaining speed. But the Bhuvneshwar we know of was always a swing bowler.
A. In that series I didn’t go for speed. But yes, I couldn’t swing the ball and it was a bad series. But there were a lot of factors behind it. The wickets were dry, turning and I accept that I bowled badly but it wasn’t that I left swinging the ball because of speed.
Q. You have been clocking 140kph and over, how did you reach that range? Is it because of more cricket or have you been following a schedule?
A. I don’t think playing more cricket helps you gain speed, but it helps you mature and you can work on skills after that. Training in the gym helped me increase pace but at the same time I was working on my strength – swing, so that I didn’t become just a quick bowler.
Q. Since the time you gained pace, wickets have dried up? How did you handle the pressure?
A. There comes a time where wickets don’t come but I haven’t let it affect my confidence. When you don’t get wickets, you realise you need to go back to the basics. I realised what needed to be done to bring back my swing. I don’t want to bowl over 140 but 135 as long as swing is there.
Q. You were successful bowling at the death. Has death bowling become difficult or have batsmen left bowlers with few options?
A. I wasn’t great at the death initially, but I worked hard. These days, bowling is a tough job, especially in T20s as batsmen have no pressure unlike in Tests where they are expected to play the entire day. Death bowling is difficult, be it T20 or ODI because the margin of error is less and the way batsmen play the scoop or pedal.
Q. Do you think T20 has affected a bowler’s growth beyond a point whereas batsmen have taken the lead?
A. I don’t think so because if you see bowlers from the first edition of IPL, they have become smart. It is obvious bowlers don’t have variety other than yorkers, slower ones and maybe another way of bowling the slower one in a different action. But the good thing is that they have become perfect. But the counter to that is the scoop batsmen play but a lot of factors play a role like fielding positions. So it is true that bowlers have limited options but they know how to bowl against a particular batsman and that is where they have grown.
Q. Does injury affect a bowler mentally and physically?
A. It is human to avoid putting load on the part where an injury occurs. Inadvertently, you end up doing things which were nowhere in your mind and the body fails to perform the way you would have wanted it to. That is where team staff, bowling coaches step in and tell you that something is affecting your bowling. I agree, injury brings in a lot of change.