Swing King Bhuvneshwar Kumar might have had a rough time at IPL 2021 – his economy rate of 7.97 was his worst in a season – but India captain Virat Kohli has brushed off concerns around his form in the lead-up to the Men’s T20 World Cup.
Bhuvi’s experience will be priceless – Kohli
Asked about whether the team management was concerned about Bhuvi’s poor run in IPL, Kohli backed the right arm seamer, saying,”No, not at all [concerned],” Kohli said on Saturday. “His economy rates still continue to be top notch, something that he’s always been known for and his experience comes to the fore under pressure.
If you see the game that we [Royal Challengers] played against Sunrisers, the last game, where he had to close out the game against AB de Villiers, probably one of the two or three most destructive lower-order finishers in the T20 game.
“It explained or spoke volumes of what experience Bhuvi brings on the field, whenever we play – just the understanding of hitting the areas, according to the dimensions of the field, and what balls to bowl at what time.
Even the fact that he bowls lengths so well and so consistently, which is not an easy thing to get away in T20 cricket, especially with the new ball. It’s quite an underrated thing and I think his experience and accuracy has always been priceless for the team.
“He’s back to being at full fitness, which augurs really well for our team. I’m sure with the new ball, he’ll definitely get some kind of assistance through the tournament and, whatever little there’s on offer [for the pacers], Bhuvi knows how to make the maximum use out of that. So, his experience, as I said, is going to be priceless for us.”
Kohli says Ashwin bowling with lots of courage is why he was selected
Defending the team management’s decision of selecting Ashwin, despite the off-spinner not having played white-ball cricket for more than four years, Kohli said, “That one thing that Ashwin has really improved on is bowling with a lot of courage in white-ball cricket,” Kohli said.
“If you see the IPL in the last couple of years, he’s bowled difficult overs, he’s bowled against the top players in the IPL – you know the likes of Polly [Kieron Pollard] and power-hitters – not being shy to put the ball in the right areas where spinners can kind of get intimidated by the way Polly hits the ball and the power-hitters in the IPL.
“But Ashwin believed in his skill sets and we’ve felt like the way he was bowling, his variations now, and the control over pace, is something which [gives us] a lot of experience. A guy who has played so much international cricket and now when’s at his confident best, these guys can go in there and change the game with their spells. So, hence I think Ashwin has been rewarded for reviving his white-ball skills altogether.
“He was a regular feature for us back in the day and then fell off a little bit because the wristspinners were the ones in demand mostly through the middle period, but now the fingerspinners with accuracy have come back into the game again.
I think we also have to evolve as a team with the evolving side of the game and Ash and the likes of Jadeja as well [are performing beautifully]. The way he has gone about in the IPL as well – just being a fingerspinner and bowling with a lot of courage just augurs really well for the team.”