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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

MS Dhoni ‘coached’ Bhuvneshwar Kumar to play winning knock in 2nd IND vs SL ODI

MS Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar Kumar put together a 100-run partnership to take Indian cricke team home after Sri Lanka cricket team’s Akila Dananjaya triggered a stunning batting collapse in the second India vs Sri Lanka ODI at Pallekele

india-vs-sri-lanka-2017 Updated: Aug 25, 2017 16:03 IST
N Ananthanarayanan
N Ananthanarayanan
Hindustan Times, Pallekele (Sri Lanka)
Indian cricket team's Bhuvneshwar Kumar hits a boundary during the second ODI against Sri Lanka cricket team at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele on Thursday
Indian cricket team's Bhuvneshwar Kumar hits a boundary during the second ODI against Sri Lanka cricket team at the Pallekele International Cricket Stadium in Pallekele on Thursday(AFP)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar described his maiden ODI half-century as a dream come true after proving Indian cricket team’s unlikely batting hero in the escape to victory against Sri Lanka at Pallekele on Thursday. Bhuvneshwar Kumar said MS Dhoni’s tips helped him keep his nerves in a tense game. (SL vs IND 2nd ODI highlights)

The 27-year-old pace bowler struck an unbeaten 53 to rally India from 131/7, chasing 231 for victory in the second ODI to hand a tense three-wicket victory over Sri Lanka cricket team for a 2-0 series lead. (SL vs IND 2nd ODI scorecard)

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has three Test fifties and a first-class century, but had never felt he could replicate those efforts in ODIs as he wasn’t comfortable giving the charge to bowlers.

“I never thought in my dreams I would score a fifty in one-dayers; not fifty but match-winning knock because one-dayers is a format which doesn’t suit my batting because I am not the kind of batsman who can hit big sixes.

Ideal situation

“But that kind of situation was perfect for me because it was totally a Test match situation. When I went in, MS (Dhoni) said the same thing ‘play the way you play in Test matches’,” Bhuvneshwar Kumar said after helping India go 2-0 up in the five-match series.

Bhuvneshwar joined MS Dhoni (45 not out) after a sensational six-wicket haul by Sri Lankan spinner Akila Dananjaya, who snapped up six wickets in 20 deliveries, left India reeling.

Bhuvi, known for his calm temperament, acknowledged that Indian batsmen panicked after failing to pick Dhananjaya’s deliveries.

“We had a very good opening partnership. Then three-four wickets fell quickly, so it was a bit of a panic situation for us,” he said.

Tackling Dananjaya

Initially, there was no pressure on him because India seemed to be on the verge of defeat. However, he tackled Dananjaya, 23, to revive the innings.

“I had a plan against him. Basically he is an off-spinner but he was also bowling leg spinners and googlies, so it was a surprise for us. When I went in, I just wanted to play the wrong one or googly, which he was bringing in to me. And whatever was going away, I wasn’t really worried about that.”

Bhuvneshwar Kumar said it took a while to get used to Dananjaya’s deliveries. “Initially it was a bit difficult to read him from the hand, but later on, when I played him for 10-15 balls, I could read his variations from the hand.”

MS Dhoni lived up to his reputation as a finisher, but it was not about countering the bowling, but to gradually revive the Indian innings. When India lost their seventh wicket, they still had 25.2 overs in which to get 100 runs.

“Having him (Dhoni) on the other end gave calmness. I knew even if we need 7-8 runs per over in the last five overs, he was there to score them. … I just wanted to play all those overs.”

Bhuvneshwar did not play in the Tests, but spent a lot of time in the batting nets with assistant coach, Sanjay Bangar.

“When I went in that was the thing that went through my mind, so the good thing was the situation was totally familiar (like a Test).”

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 09:30 IST

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