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Indian Premier League helps shore up India’s death-overs bowling

The experience of playing several seasons of Indian Premier League has turned Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah into potent forces in the death overs.

cricket Updated: Feb 25, 2018 16:41 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Cape Town
India vs South Africa,Indian cricket team,Bhuvneshwar Kumar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar (L) and Jasprit Bumrah (R) have turned into potent forces for India in the death overs.(AP)

India’s performance in the limited-overs format, especially in T20s, made one thing clear --- they dominated the powerplay overs. It wasn’t just the men’s team, the women’s performance too in the first six overs made the difference.

While Bhuvneshwar Kumar & Co restricted SA to 25/1 in the first six overs, India were allowed to cruise to 57/1. In the women’s match, India were 39/1 as compared to South Africa’s 22/3.

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Bhuvneshwar, who won Man of the Series, attributed the performance to IPL.

“Thanks to IPL, it has made an Indian bowler a thinking bowler. It is important not to give too many runs in the first six overs. I always try to keep it simple,” he said after the match.

“T20 cricket is all about using variations and the timing has to be perfect. Whatever knuckle ball I have bowled, I have wanted the batsmen to go after that. That way you can get wickets and that’s one of the main reasons why I have been successful in the powerplays.”

South Africa coach Ottis Gibson felt the Indian bowlers were far too experienced in this format and partly credited IPL for their development.

“India have got (Jasprit Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar, two very experienced players. We’ve had (Chris) Morris and debutant Junior Dala. The experience the Indians have of playing not just for India but also playing 3-4 years of IPL cricket has paid off.”

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To compare the numbers in other games, SA were 41/2 in six overs in first T20 as against India’s 78/2. India won that by 28 runs. In the second T20, which the Proteas won, they were marginally better than India – getting 50/2 to India’s 45/3. It could be said that it probably made the difference, although Bhuvneshwar felt the overs that follow are as important. South Africa proved that on Saturday, almost coming close to India’s total at the backend.

India’s top-order batting continued to blossom like it did in the ODIs. They didn’t lose too many wickets. Despite Rohit Sharma flopping mostly in ODIs and flattering to deceive in T20s, Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina have ensured that the top three in both formats managed to lay the foundation.

Raina was sublime on Saturday night, playing a knock that could eventually see him get considered for the ODI team. His idea, as he confessed, has been to milk the powerplay overs. It has been easier than for the Proteas batsmen, who have come unstuck against India’s bowling.

“Our bowlers bowled lots of variations. You need a good start in the first six overs, our bowlers did tremendously well and they bowled in the good areas,” said Bhuvneshwar.

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There is little doubt that the Indian bowlers’ experience of bowling in IPL has made them better. Till a few years back, Bhuvneshwar was a bowler who could swing the ball upfront but was fodder towards the end. However, IPL seems to have turned him into an excellent death bowler and he blossomed in the role at Sunrisers Hyderabad.

On surfaces that have been two-paced and haven’t afforded swing and movement, bowlers needed to be smart, especially at the death, and Bhuvneshwar wasn’t found short on that.

The women, despite not having played IPL, too used the change of pace well to trouble the Proteas women.

South Africa women’s captain Dane Van Niekerk admitted that India were better on that front. “India do the change of pace well. We tried it too but they managed to put balls in the right areas. They were smarter.”

First Published: Feb 25, 2018 16:23 IST