Barring the last Super 4 innings match against Afghanistan, where he returned with magical figures of 4/5, Indian veteran Bhuvneshwar Kumar had a very ordinary Asia Cup by his standards. The curse of 19 also started in that tournament. Pakistan needed 26 runs off 12 balls when Indian captain Rohit Sharma trusted Bhuvneshwar to bowl the 19th over. He had delivered a few times before, but that day he leaked 19 runs. India lost. A couple of days later against Sri Lanka, Bhuvneshwar conceded 14 runs and with 12 runs needed, India lost again. A week later, Bhuvneshwar completed a hat-trick of fours with Australia’s Matthew Wade in the 19th over as India defended 209. They couldn’t do it.
Bhuvneshwar wasn’t the only problem – Harshal Patel had gone for 22 in the Australia T20I in Mohali – but being the most experienced, he had to settle in the slog-verse. Fortunately, the need to defend the death-defying target has yet to come to India in the T20 World Cup. But in the match against Pakistan, Bhuvneshwar and Arshdeep were bowled by Pakistani bowlers Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf for six balls.
Asked if the criticism of his death bowling in the Asia Cup had hurt his ten years of good work for India, Bhuvneshwar gave the impression that he was not amused.
“Itne saalon mein ek baar ho gayi cheezein kharab. So ho gayi. Baat hatam. (Over the years, I’ve had this one semi-tournament. That’s it. It’s done and dusted).
“The media and commentators can say a lot (about death bowling) but as a team we know we have our share of ups and downs. T20 is a format that can be difficult for bowlers, even if they are bowlers. It’s a tough road. But the Asia Cup because it’s a big event, people appreciate you more.” Bhuvneshwar said he stays away from social media during big events.
“During the World Cup, I stay completely away from social media and I don’t know what’s being written about. Because with this social media, you can find out everything.”
The Indian team was in Perth for a seven-day camp, so playing South Africa on Saturday could work in the team’s favour.
“The first phase of preparation when we arrived in Perth was the most important phase. As each team’s players change, the strategy changes. We discussed and practiced the execution of the plans.
“If you lose the first tournament and a match against a tough team like Pakistan, it would be difficult to come back.” The trend in such events is that batsmen become hell-bent on leather in Group 10, he said.
“You might feel as a bowling unit, we lost another 15 to 20 (34 in the last 3 games) but that was the pattern of all the teams in the World Cup,” Bhuvneshwar said.
“If you watch most matches, teams don’t score many goals in the first 10 games, but when the ball gets old, the players start to run.”