Bhuvneshwar Kumar always knew how to swing the white ball but now he feels more complete as a bowler with an ability to generate pace in the death overs. Bhuvneshwar bowled an impressive first spell comprising pace and swing as he finished with brilliant figures of 6.1-2 -9-3 including the wicket of dangerous David Warner. India won the second ODI by 50 runs to take a 2-0 lead in the five-match series.
"When I first came into the side, I needed conditions favouring swing bowling to flourish. A year after making my debut, I wanted to increase my pace, but I had no clue how to go about that," Bhuvneshwar made a humble admission during the post-match news conference.
The Meerut-born pacer attributed it to the inputs from strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu for being able to increase of pace which has immensely helped him bowling during slog overs. "Shankar Basu introduced me to a different type of training that eventually helped me increase my pace. That, in turn, went on to help me bowl at the death too."
Bhuvneshwar said after bowling the very first delivery, he knew that conditions are ideal for swing bowling, something which has been synonymous with the Eden Gardens.
Asked about the spell, he said: "Yes, I had planned to bowl like that. As soon as I bowled the first ball, I knew there was some swing on offer. To Warner, I knew outswingers can work against him. Pitching it on the offstump and getting it to shape away."
Having played alongside Warner for Sunrisers Hyderabad had obviously come in handy. "Yes, I know a bit as to where he lacks and where I should bowl at. But execution is more important than anything. IPL is such a tournament that you end up knowing about the strengths and weaknesses of everyone because you are playing with so many people in the same side."
With senior pros Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami warming the benches, Bhuvneshwar is now the leader of the Indian bowling attack but he does not want to look at it from that angle.
"I won't say I am a premier bowler or anything, because we are all trying to work hard and whoever gets the opportunity, wants to do well. Workload is taken care of a lot more these days. The support staff is working very hard on getting that right for us. It comes with time and adapting to the work culture," he said.
Bhuvneshwar feels as much as you dissect opposition's strength and weaknesses, if one can't execute their plans, there is no use doing homework. "See, they might know our spinners (Kuldeep and Chahal) and might have even played alongside them in the IPL. But again, you have to execute on the field, like I said. Without that, there is no use of knowing anyone's strengths and weaknesses."
India's total of 252 might have been below-par but the home team dressing room was upbeat about their chances. "It was obviously not a big total. But still, there was no bad mood in the dressing room at the halfway mark. No one was really upset with the performance. We believe in each other, and that makes a big difference.
"We kept talking about taking wickets at regular intervals. If you get those regular wickets in the middle overs, it always helps, irrespective of the runs on board."
Of late, Bhuvneshwar, the batsman has also come to the fore with some important cameos. "I have natural talent when it comes to batting. It is not that I have done anything different to get better with the bat. It's very different in Tests and ODIs though. ODI is a format where I mostly need to hit out at the position where I bat."
"The knock against Sri Lanka (2nd ODI) actually gave me a lot of confidence. There is now a mindset that I need to work on partnerships."