Barring the last Super 4 stage match against Afghanistan, where he returned with magical figures of 4/5, veteran India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a pretty ordinary Asia Cup by his standards. The curse of the 19th over also began in that tournament. Pakistan needed 26 runs off 12 balls when India captain Rohit Sharma trusted Bhuvneshwar to bowl the 19th over. He had delivered in the past on multiple occasions but that day he faltered, leaking 19 runs. India lost. A couple of days later, against Sri Lanka, Bhuvneshwar gave away 14 runs when 12 was required off two overs, India lost again. A week later Bhuvneshwar was hit for a hat-trick of fours by Australia’s Matthew Wade in the 19th over when India were defending 209. They couldn’t do it.
Bhuvneshwar was obviously not the only problem – Harshal Patel had gone for 22 in the previous over in that Australia T20I in Mohali – but being the most experienced one, he had to stand up in the slog overs. Thankfully, so far in the T20 World Cup, the need to defend a target at the death hasn’t yet arrived for India. But in the match against Pakistan, both Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep were hit for sixes by Pakistan bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf.
When asked if the criticism about his Asia Cup death bowling had hurt him having done admirably well for India for a decade, Bhuvneshwar did give an impression that he wasn’t amused.
“Itne saalon mein ek baar ho gayi cheezein kharab. So ho gayi. Baat khatam. (In all these years, I have had this one off tournament. It’s happened. It’s done and dusted).
“Media and commentators can say a lot of things (about death bowling), but as a team we knew that we will have our share of ups and downs. T20 is a format where it could be tough for bowlers and even for batters if the track is difficult one. But since Asia Cup is a big event people do tend to assess you that much more.” Bhuvneshwar said he keeps away from social media during big events.
“During World Cup, I keep myself completely off from social media and have no idea what all is written about. Because it’s the social media from which you come to know all these things.”
The Indian team had a seven-day camp in Perth and that’s why playing South Africa on Saturday, could work to the team’s advantage.
“The first phase of preparation when we touched down here in Perth was the most crucial one. The strategy changes with each team as batters change. We discussed and trained on the execution of plans.
“If you lose a match first up in a tournament and that too against a tough team like Pakistan, it would have been difficult to make a comeback.”The trend in such events is that batters go hell for leather in the back 10, he said.
“You might feel as a bowling unit we conceded 15 to 20 more (34 in last 3 overs) but that has been a pattern of all teams in this World Cup,” Bhuvneshwar said.
“If you see most matches, teams haven’t scored much in the first 10 but once the ball becomes a touch older, set batters start making runs.”