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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

ICC World Cup 2019: Compliments are good, ultimate aim is to win the World Cup - Bhuvneshwar Kumar

The fast bowler also said that the BCCI had said nothing but as professionals they know how much to can stretch and how much to prepare to be fit and ready for a match.

cricket Updated: Apr 17, 2019 09:17 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Rajesh Pansare
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
File image of Bhuvneshwar Kumar
File image of Bhuvneshwar Kumar(Getty Images)

The 2015 World Cup and the following phase was one of struggle for Bhuvneshwar Kumar. An ankle injury sidelined him, raising questions about his international future. However,

he showed determination to strengthen the ankle, improve fitness, increase pace and add variations to his bowling. The Uttar Pradesh and Sunrisers Hyderabad seamer regained his India spot in 2017 and hasn’t looked back since. Part of the World Cup squad, the 29-year-old speaks about his form, India’s chances and his evolution as a bowler.

ALSO READ: Former India skipper not happy with Dinesh Karthik’s selection over Rishabh Pant


English conditions will suit your bowling but you will also be expected to do well. Is there pressure?

There is no extra pressure on me. I’ve played there a lot and know the conditions. There has been talk of swinging conditions but there will be good batting wickets as well as we saw in the 2017 Champions Trophy. Once we reach, we will acclimatise, see how the conditions are and chart the course.

Does that mean pitches will be batting friendly?

Don’t want to say either. It’s a big tournament so they are going to be fair wickets. I’m not saying it’s going to be the same (like 2017 Champions Trophy) but generally there have been good batting wickets, but at the same time there has been a bit of swing as well.

You had injuries last year and sat out the Australia Tests. How is your bowling now?

The last two-three matches have been really good. I have been comfortable with the rhythm and execution. In the first few matches, I wasn’t there. It could be because of anything – I didn’t play many matches or whatever.

How is the back holding up?

It’s good for now but I have to keep focusing on that, keep strengthening it. It has been something I’ve been doing regularly as I don’t want to take a chance. In the past when I’ve stopped doing rehab or taken things for granted, the injury has recurred.

How difficult is it when you are not picked regularly?

The disadvantage is you lose rhythm. The advantage is it allows you to work or many aspects during training. When you keep playing, one doesn’t get time to improve on specific things.

Has BCCI given instructions on workload management?

BCCI has said nothing but as professionals we know how much we can stretch and how much we have to prepare ourselves to be fit and ready for a match. We know what is expected of us by the team management.

What will be the challenges at the World Cup -- it’s almost two-and-half months and you play nine group games?

The main thing will be to stay in rhythm. If we play continuously (it won’t be a problem). The first challenge will be to stay fit for all matches. There will be gaps in between which will help. I’m not really concerned as the team management will keep an eye on that. The main thing will be to go fit to the tournament and then see how it goes.

Australia, England and West Indies have done well. How do you rate India’s chances?

The ultimate focus is to win the World Cup, like it will be for other teams. If we assume the other teams are not good as us, we will be fooling ourselves. We lost the last series, but if you look at our performances in the last one or two years, we have dominated. If you do well for such a long time and then lose a series, it’s not a big issue. Going to the World Cup, the focus will be on ironing out flaws, if any. The two practice matches we will play before the start will be crucial.

ALSO READ: Former England captain suggests conditions could suit Virat Kohli’s India

After the 2015 World Cup, you lost your place in the side…

I didn’t do anything different, but when you get time off because of injury or you are not selected, you have more than enough time to think about the good things you did or the not so good things. You go back to your coach who has seen you from your junior days and try to fix the flaws. You get those small inputs which can really improve you as a bowler. The best thing is it was a blessing in disguise. I focussed on things which I had to improve as there isn’t much time while travelling with the team.

Many former players have said this is the best Indian attack going to the World Cup?

Compliments are good but if you take that too seriously, you end up putting too much pressure on yourself. When we do well it is appreciated but when we don’t we are criticised. It’s part of the game. Our job is to focus on what we do individually and collectively.

You and Jasprit Bumrah have been bowling together for a while now…

We are different, so that helps. He has got a different action while I can swing the ball. We complement each other that way. You always need to have variations and that’s what we provide. We always have discussions which helps us pick a point or two from each other.

India’s No 4 spot is seen as weak?

The first thing is we have tried many players in that position. Now, it’s up to the management who they want to play at the spot as the 15 have been picked. It’s a very crucial tournament so they will decide who should bat there and they will (try) not to mess that thing. Those who have missed out it is unfortunate for them but the management believes in Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar and that’s why they are there.

What clicked for Vijay Shankar?

First and foremost thing was the way he has performed at the domestic level. It’s not just for one year but many years and he is a very good player as well. That’s why he is in the team.

What is your target as you played just one match in 2015?

The ultimate aim is to win the World Cup, but I haven’t set any target as yet. Firstly, half of the IPL is still left, so my focus in on that. Once it is over, the focus will shift to the World Cup.

You returned with pace and variations after the injury problems in 2015…

It’s not just one thing which resulted in my comeback to the team. I practised a lot, trained a lot, focussing on specific areas I needed to improve on. It’s a mixture of everything -- fitness, bowling or batting.

You target taking wickets or bowl as per the situation?

I bowl according to what the situation demands. Sometimes it demands I bowl dot balls and then ultimately the wicket comes. Sometimes you go for wicket. Whether I do that or not I always try to achieve the maximum.

What is your go-to delivery?

I feel there is never a go-to ball, it differs from batsman-to-batsman. For some, yorkers would be good, for others it won’t be. It depends on the dimensions of the ground, strengths of the batsmen and how comfortable I’m with it.

You bowl at the start of the innings and at the death. How difficult is it to switch?

It’s not very difficult because that’s what we to train to achieve. We have been practising for years, so if I say it’s difficult then something is wrong with me -- either I’m not focussing or practising enough. Bowling in powerplay and then in death overs is difficult but switching from bowling one length to another is not that much.

How difficult was it to add variations to your bowling?

It was not something that came naturally to me. You pick up one or two variations, then you develop others as you go along. The knuckle-ball is something I developed seeing others. More importantly, it’s the demand of the games in current times. Any variation that can deceive the batsmen is what I always try to work on, yorkers and the slowers ones well.

Sunrisers seem to be too dependent on Warner and Bairstow. If they leave early for the World Cup, how will the team cope?

I wouldn’t say we have been totally dependent on them, or for that matter on any other player. It’s unfortunate the middle-order hasn’t clicked. The starts they have given us have been very crucial, and once they go back to their country, it won’t be difficult for us but won’t be easy to replace them either. But we’ve got other good players who can step up and perform.

First Published: Apr 17, 2019 09:00 IST

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