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Bhuvneshwar Kumar says slow balls part of India’s strategy vs SA in Johannesburg

Bhuvneshwar Kumar revealed that it was part of India’s strategy in the Johannesburg T20I against South Africa to bowl a lot of slow deliveries

cricket Updated: Feb 19, 2018 12:04 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
India vs South Africa,Bhuvneshwar Kumar,Indian cricket team
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (centre) picked 5/24 to guide India to victory in the opening T20I against South Africa in Johannesburg on Sunday.(AFP)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar became the first India bowler to take a five-wicket haul across all formats with fifer in the Johannesburg T20I on Sunday. The Uttar Pradesh seamer is probably one of the most deserving candidates to achieve this feat considering how much thought and brain he puts into his bowling. (IND v SA 1st T20I HIGHLIGHTS)

Bowling on a flat deck like Sunday’s at Wanderers, called gun of a wicket by his skipper before the start, was never going to be easy. The inexperienced Proteas bowlers erred by bowling too fast and often too short. (IND v SA 1st T20I SCORECARD)

Bhuvneshwar insists that preparing a strategy ahead of a match is important which means guessing or visualising what lengths to bowl and what line to stick to. It has been materialising.

“The important thing is how you mix your deliveries according to the wicket. For instance, today 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.”

SA opener Reeza Hendricks, who made 70, found Bhuvneshwar the most difficult bowler to face.

“He (Bhuvneshwar) was just consistent in his areas which was pretty much giving us nothing to score off. So we had to be happy with ones and twos at that time,” Hendricks said.

The right-arm pacer’s strength is his ability to gauge the wicket. Being one of the senior bowlers in the side, he is expected to ascertain the line and length India bowlers have to bowl.

“The whole picture begins to emerge only after you’ve bowled a few balls. You can get a bit of idea after you’ve batted like we did today. But you get a proper idea only after you’ve bowled a few balls,” he said.

Bhuvneshwar was rested for the last ODI. Captain Kohli had said after the match that it was important to manage Bhuvneshwar’s workload especially after he’d bowled so much. The experienced pacer isn’t the strongest of the bowlers, even though he has put on a lot of muscle of late.

Kohli’s insistence on rotating him seems to be paying off and the bowler attributed his success to improved fitness.

“It (success) comes with fitness. It is not easy playing all three formats, especially on a single tour. So what I wanted to do before coming here was manage the workload. I wanted to practice but in a specific way, so as to not put extra pressure on the body.”

The fast bowler hadn’t looked at his best in the ODIs even though he was on the money in the Test series. Such was his impact in the first Test at Cape Town, where he had dented the Proteas with early wickets, that Kohli was widely criticised for not going with him in the second Test at Centurion which India lost. While that miss wasn’t due to fitness issues and was part of Kohli’s strategy, the one on Friday was meant to give him a break.

“Getting rested depends on factors like form. Sometimes you never know yourself but those watching from the outside get the idea that a player could be looking fragile and needs a break. It’s not a particular number (of games) or anything. For instance, in the last match (ODI), there was nothing, we had won the series and I was given rest and I also felt good.”

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 08:51 IST