Bhuvneshwar Kumar had not played any cricket in December after the end of the Twenty20 International series against Australia which ended in a 1-1 draw. In the first ODI against Australia in Sydney, the Meerut right-arm pacer made a great start by picking up his 100th ODI wicket by getting rid of Aaron Finch cheaply but his fortunes soon nosedived as he struggled to contain the flow of runs in the death overs. His inability to nail the yorkers indicated that he was short of match practice. With Jasprit Bumrah resting for this series, the Indian bowling is looking up to Bhuvneshwar to deliver the goods.
Ahead of the Adelaide ODI, Bhuvneshwar was seen practising the yorker as he aims to put in a better performance with the ball in the death overs. “The skills (required to bowl yorkers) are also different. I was practising bowling yorkers at the shoes, and I was practising for the end (slog) overs to take wickets or block some runs. This (keeping shoes on the pitch) is something that I have been doing for some time. I didn't practice that for almost a month now because in Tests, we hardly needed that. And I didn't play a match. Going into an ODI or T20I series, you need that (yorker) thing. So I was practising that,” Bhuvneshwar said.
Bhuvneshwar did admit that being out of competitive cricket for over a month did impact his rhythm. “It (not playing regularly) did impact (my rhythm). Match rhythm is totally different when it comes to bowling. I was trying everything to be in rhythm in the nets. But it can't be a 100 per cent when you compare to a match (situation). It wasn't great in the last match (in Sydney) but it wasn't bad as well. It can improve, as the matches will go on. I was trying everything to be in rhythm. In the nets, I wasn't planning or preparing to bowl in the ODIs. I was preparing like I have to play in any of the Tests. I was preparing in that manner. There wasn't anything specific that I could do. But it was just normal bowling and increasing the number of overs. If I was bowling 4 overs (to start with), then go to 6, then 8, then 10. The key thing for me is to be niggle-free and be in bowling rhythm,” Bhuvneshwar said.
The challenge for India’s bowlers will be the way in which they step up in Bumrah’s absence. India have a total of 12 ODIs before the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2019 but they will be determined to level the three-match series as they aim to build momentum.