IPL 2017: T20 bowling is all about handling pressure, says Bhuvneshwar Kumar
In an unforgiving format like T20, Sunrisers Hyderabad seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar shines among bowlers who are often left bewildered as they are subjected to a hiding by batsmen in the Indian Premier League.
For the second season running, Bhuvneshwar dons the purple cap as the leading wicket-taker, proving yet again that he is the best bowler in these conditions, churning out match winning performances for defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Fitness and choice of pace attack had restricted Bhuvneshwar’s appearances to four of India’s 13 home Tests going into the IPL.
In the home series, he was picked for the second Test against New Zealand in Kolkata, and claimed a five-wicket haul. An injury kept him out of the third. He played one Test against England and the one-off game against Bangladesh before featuring in the final Test win over Australia in Dharamsala.
Matches to find rhythm
Bhuvneshwar, 27, feels the match against the Aussies helped get into a rhythm.
“It was good I played the Test before IPL. Playing matches is the best thing to get back into rhythm. I was trying to do a lot of bowling in the nets but that is different from match,” he said ahead of Sunrisers Hyderabad’s match against Kings XI Punjab on Friday.
Bhuvneshwar has carved a niche for himself in T20s. Last year, in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s title triumph, he snared 23 wickets at an economy of 7.42, finishing the top wicket-taker in IPL 2016.
This year too, the Uttar Pradesh bowler has been the leader. With 16 wickets in seven matches at an economy of 6.28, Bhuvi has been the mainstay in Sunrisers Hyderabad’s pace attack, bowling the death overs and giving away next to nothing.
Focused net practice
Bhuvi gave an insight into what made him a death-overs specialist.
“How you practice in the nets is important because if you give 100 % then you can hope 80-90 % of the things will work in a match situation and under pressure. In T20, it’s all about how you handle pressure; sometimes you start thinking about the result and not the process. I am lucky that somehow I have managed to concentrate on the process and not results.”
His best this season came against Kings XI Punjab. He captured five wickets for 19 runs, dismissing Manan Vohra for 95 when the opener was threatening to single-handedly win the match. However, against Rising Pune Supergiant, Bhuvneshwar and others leaked runs as MS Dhoni played aggressively to help clinch a last-ball win.
Getting yorkers right
“Death overs are always challenging. For yorkers, your basics have to be correct, and lots of things have to go your way to get a yorker right in a match situation. Under pressure, your accuracy drops. I have been lucky as well. Against Dhoni, I was not. It’s not that we bowled badly, but he was able to take advantage of even marginally loose balls. And that is the toughest part in this shortest format,” he said.
Although talk about Champions Trophy has started and India are yet to name the squad, Bhuvneshwar Kumar thinks the event is too far ahead to think about it.
“It’s always nice to have competition and England is a place which is conducive to swing bowling. But right now, I am focused on the task on hand.
“Initially, when I was starting and was new to international cricket, these things used to bother me. But now I am used to it; it’s part and parcel of a player’s life.”