India lost the Test series 2-1 against South Africa, won the successive ODI series 5-1 in a convincing fashion, and have started off the three-match T20I series with a blast after defeating the Proteas by 28 runs in the 1st T20 on Sunday (18 February) at the Wanderers Stadium. And the Man of the Match was Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who claimed 5 wickets to push India 1-up in the series.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar the deciding factor in India’s win
As Shikhar Dhawan scored a 39-ball 72-run knock to help India set a score of 203 runs, Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed 5 wickets in 4 overs to halt South Africa batsmen’s efforts to outplay India. After dismissing the South African openers – JJ Smuts (14), Reeza Hendricks (70), and JP Duminy (3) – the India pacer targeted the lower order – Heinrich Klassen (16) and Chris Morris (0) – registering his career best T20 figures – 5/24.
Even when Hardik Pandya and MS Dhoni ensured a timely run-out of Dane Paterson (1), the bowler was Bhuvneshwar Kumar only. The 3 wickets including Paterson had come in the 18th over, which saw ‘Bhuvi’ just miss his hat-trick chance. And although Bhuvneshwar Kumar was the highest wicket-taker in the clash, the 28-year-old seamer didn’t think that it was his individual effort to help India go 1-up. Speaking at the post-match conference, Bhuvneshwar Kumar said, as reported by ESPN Cricinfo,
“Of course, it was a good performance. When you win you forget everything that is going on, but yes, as a team it was a complete performance. When we went in, we knew what we wanted to do as a batting and a bowling team.”
On claiming a 5 wickets in T20 as a pacer
Bhuvneshwar Kumar claimed 5 wickets in the 1st T20 against South Africa and registered the joint-highest wickets taken by a pacer in T20 cricket.
“It’s amazing to get five in a T20. I just wanted to bowl in the good areas and it’s a result of that. Seeing how they were bowling and how the wicket was, we planned our bowling and it worked for us. I enjoy bowling in the tough situations (at the start and end of the innings). The knuckle ball (with the seam up) is something I’ve been working on for almost a year,” said Bhuvneshwar Kumar, as reported by the Hindustan Times.
Fitness is the foremost factor for Bhuvneshwar
Bhuvneshwar Kumar said that the first and foremost factor which has helped the world’s one of the best seamer to prevail in South Africa is his fitness, and how he has managed it. He said,
“First thing, it comes to fitness. It’s not easy to play all the three formats on a single tour. So, the first thing that I wanted to do before coming to South Africa was to manage workload. During the series week I wanted to do practice but in a certain way, so that I don’t give much load on the body.”
Bhuvneshwar credits Team India for the win
Bhuvneshwar Kumar said that regardless of his 5-wicket haul, Team India would have lost had it not been a complete team effort. Kumar said that individual feats are worthless when a team loses, so the credit for the win was not for any single person to take. He said,
“Credit goes to each and everyone, to this team. Without team effort we can’t do anything, individual performances don’t matter when you don’t win. If you look at the first two Test matches, they were close but we didn’t win. It was only after the 3rd Test that the winning momentum had started.”
“I won’t say it’s one person, it’s each and everyone from player to support staff to the team management.”
When asked if there was something that South Africa were doing wrong due to which they lost the 1st T20I of the three-match series, Bhuvneshwar Kumar said,
“I don’t know what they (South Africa) were doing wrong, but I know what I was doing right and that was bowling with a change of pace. I just wanted to take pace off the ball and it’s what I did as I knew it won’t be easy to hit the ball. So, that’s the thing I did well.”