Before the ICC World Cup got underway in England and Wales, out of the five bowlers for India, Bhuvneshwar Kumar remained an uncertainty till the first game of the tournament. Mohammed Shami’s fine form over the last year made him Bhuvneshwar’s biggest competitor for the lead paceman’s spot alongside Jasprit Bumrah.
On Sunday in India’s second game against defending champions Australia, Bhuvneshwar was the pick of the bowlers picking up 3/50 as Virat Kohli’s side emerged victorious with a 36-run margin at the Oval.
The 40th over the game bowled by Bhuvneshwar turned the tide firmly in India’s favour as the Indian paceman prised out an ominous-looking Steve Smith (69) and dangerous Marcus Stoinis (0) in a matter of three deliveries.
“For me, it was the game-changing over or the over which turned the tide in our favour. Smith was set and Stoinis is as dangerous as anyone in their team. So getting them out got us right back into the match again,” Bhuvneshwar told the media in the ICC mixed zone after the game on Sunday.
India posted 352 runs on the board after batting first led by Shikhar Dhawan’s imperious 117. Kohli was always in control of the proceedings although Smith, Khawaja and Alex Carey looked dangerous at different points of time.
“I don’t think there was too much pressure. I was only thinking about bowling dot-balls or getting them out. ODIs are such that if you go for runs in an over, you can make a comeback. That’s what happened in that over (40th),” the Uttar Pradesh paceman said.
“We had 350 runs on the board, so what we wanted to do was bowl dot balls. The last 10 overs chasing nearly 15 runs per over is not easy, because you have to keep on hitting in every over. The moment we got wickets especially Smith, Stoinis and Maxwell we knew that we could win the match,” he added.
The defending champions were also hampered by the laborious innings by opener David Warner, who scored his slowed ODI fifty off 77 balls with the asking rate over 7 an over from the start of the innings.
“I don’t know what Warner was thinking. Our plan to Warner was to bowl stump-to-stump because there was not much in the wickets. Our plan was to keep them quiet and keep the ball in the right areas and we managed to do that,” Bhuvneshwar said about his Sunrisers Hyderabad teammate Warner.
“Sometimes this approach gives us confidence, sometimes it’s just calm before the storm. We don’t know what that was. If you look at cricket these days, teams don’t go after you in the first 10 overs, they just want to score 4 runs an over without losing a wicket and later go after the bowling with wickets in hand. That’s exactly what they were doing but 2-3 wickets after 40th over changed the game,” Bhuvneshwar added.
Finally, asked if India are prepared to face Australia again, possibly in the semis or the final, Bhuvneshwar said, “It’s a big win for us but we are not thinking we’ll have to face them again because it’s a long tournament. We still have seven matches to go and this was just the 2nd match, so we wanted to win and build some confidence.”