Ahmedabad: Returning from a spate of injuries since the 2019 World Cup, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has said that he’s not looking too far ahead but will have the upcoming five-Test series against England in mind when he trains during the IPL.
“Whatever preparation happens from my side will happen with red-ball cricket in mind. That’s different from what will happen in team selections, but my training and workload during the IPL will happen with Test cricket in mind. I want to play Test cricket going forward,” Bhuvneshwar said after India’s 2-1 ODI series win over England.
There was relief on Bhuvneshwar’s face when he was speaking to the host broadcaster after the game. “I’m just happy that I went through the entire series pretty well,” he said with a smile.
The pacer’s tryst with injuries isn’t new. He only played four games in IPL 2020 and had missed five of the 17 games in IPL 2018 because of back troubles. In the same year, on India’s tour of England, he missed the third T20I and first two ODIs because of similar issues. He eventually returned home midway through the five-Test series. When West Indies toured India later in the year, he was rested to manage his workload, in addition to being rested for the opening two ODIs of the five-match series as well.
Although Bhuvneshwar wasn’t a 100 percent fit, he was part of India’s squad for the Australia Tests in 2018-19, but didn’t get a game subsequently. There were hamstring troubles for him at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, where he missed three games – against Afghanistan, West Indies and England. He wasn’t picked for the Test tour of West Indies, and missed the three Tests and the three-match T20I series against South Africa with a side strain. When Bangladesh were in India towards the end of the year, he missed the three T20Is with injury.
“I don’t decide on the long term future. Whenever I have in the past, things haven’t gone my way, whether it’s due to injury or form. Workload management is something I will focus on and the team management also tries and does its best. I was unfit for a long time, so I realized that fitness is something I have to maintain if I want to play regular cricket. I know that there’s an England tour in front along with other series, so I will try to keep myself fit,” Bhuvneshwar said.
Did he achieve what he wanted to in these white-ball games on return? “Yes and no. I got what I wanted in these games, but there’s always something to improve on, like it could be variations or fitness. As a team what we wanted to get, what we wanted to achieve, we got it. If you ask me individually, there’s always something… could be variations, or the knuckle ball that I’ve been wanting to improve,” he said.
Bhuvneshwar finished the three-match ODI series with six wickets at an economy of only 4.6. Only Shardul (7) finished with more wickets than him and Bhuvneshwar credited his colleague for doing the same job that spinners do for India.
“Today, he performed really well,” Bhuvneshwar said of Shardul. “He had come in as the second change bowler when the ball doesn’t swing at all and there was a lot of batting remaining too. So it’s tough for any bowler to come in there and pick up wickets. If you ask me, he changed the entire match completely. What role generally spinners play, today we played one less spinner, he gave us the breakthrough and put us in a position where we could win from.
“He’s improved a lot as a bowler be it in his batting or bowling. That’s what a team needs, for a player to contribute with the bat or ball. He’s done that since the T20s and now he’s done it here.
He’s contributed a lot. You can see a difference in his game; not difference, but improvement. And his confidence is right up there too. Just how he’s performed in the T20s or now.”
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