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Monday, Sep 23, 2019

India v New Zealand: We’ve not been challenged like this in long time - Bhuvneshwar

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who took three wickets in the second ODI, says New Zealand have given Indian cricket team a great fight at the latter’s home. The series decider will be played on Sunday

india-vs-new-zealand-2017 Updated: Oct 28, 2017 18:17 IST
Sharad Deep
Sharad Deep
Hindustan Times, Kanpur
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be key for India against New Zealand in the ODI series decider.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar will be key for India against New Zealand in the ODI series decider.(PTI)

India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, in a bid to add extra pace to his bowling, had suddenly lost his ability to move the ball, but he remained steadfast, overcoming the anxious phase to emerge as one of the most potent swing bowlers in the world.

Meerut-boy Bhuvi, who forms a deadly new-ball combination in limited-overs cricket with Jasprit Bumrah, accepts that maintaining a balance between pace and swing was not easy for him initially.

READ | India vs New Zealand: Virat Kohli & Co look to continue dominance in decider

“As a player I feel I have grown in the past couple of years. I have improved my pace without losing my ability to swing,” Bhuvneshwar, who has 84 ODI wickets in 77 matches so far, told Hindustan Times on Saturday.

“That (adding pace) is something I am really happy about. In batting too, I have improved a bit,” said Bhuvi, adding that the series decider on Sunday will be another pressure game after Pune considering the team has not been pushed to the limit like this in a long time.

“We have not been challenged like this in a while and it is a short series. So, there was pressure in the last game that we could lose the series. But the way we came back shows the character of the team. The decider is also about handling pressure. We will try to play like we played the last game.”

READ | India vs New Zealand: Bhuvneshwar Kumar enjoying his bowling, not tired at all

Bhuvi added that playing against familiar foes like New Zealand can work both ways. Most of the top Kiwi players feature in the IPL, including captain Kane Williamson, and Trent Boult. They have been Bhuvi’s teammates at Sunrisers Hyderabad. “The last series I played against New Zealand, the planning was easy… it is the same for them also. Knowing them well is a positive as well as a negative.”


New Zealand seamer Tim Southee looked excited ahead of the decider on Sunday. “With the series tied at 1-1, New Zealand are more excited than tense at the prospect of winning their maiden ODI series in India here on Sunday,” Southee said after the team’s long practice session at the Green Park on Saturday.

New Zealand came close to winning the series last year before going down 2-3 and now they have another shot at beating the formidable Indians in their own backyard. “Yes, it’s an opportunity for us to win this time, and there was an air of excitement around the guys today at training,” said Southee.

READ | Virat Kohli’s rotation policy has benefited pace bowlers: Mohammed Shami

The pacer himself is looking forward to bowling in the pleasant weather. “We know that coming to India, the heat is always a challenge. What we experienced in Mumbai was something, some of the players never experienced before, but here in Kanpur the conditions are much cooler.”

“We were involved in a lot of preparation coming into the series. Various guys were participating in different competitions around the world, be it in the Caribbean or in England or some of the guys on the ‘A’ tour here,” said Southee when asked if the current side is among the most prepared to tour India.

First Published: Oct 28, 2017 18:15 IST