I mixed it up to fox South Africa, says Bhuvneshwar
Johannesburg: Bhuvneshwar Kumar said South Africa’s ploy to unsettle Indian batsmen with short-pitched balls back-fired and the key to India’s success in the first T20 international was changing the pace and bowling more slower deliveries at the Wanderers . Bhuvneshwar (5/24) grabbed his maiden five-wicket haul in T20 internationals to help India notch up a 28-run win after restricting South Africa to 175-9 in 20 overs. “What I was trying to do is bring about change of pace in my bowling. I just wanted to take the pace off the ball because I knew it won’t be easy to hit the ball and that’s what I did. The important thing is how you mix your deliveries according to the wicket,” he said. “For instance, today we bowled a lot of slow balls. It was a part of our strategy on this wicket, to do away with pace and make it difficult for the batsmen to score. Apart from line and length, it’s important to understand how you want to mix your deliveries. It matters. Today, for instance, it was about bowling slow.” Shikhar Dhawan scored 72 off 39 balls as India sped off in the powerplay overs. The visitors finished with 203/5, their highest total in T20 cricket against South Africa. This was despite the Proteas targeting India with a short-ball strategy. Bhuvneshwar said, “Whenever India goes abroad, the reputation is that India are not good at batting against short bowling. This time we haven’t seen that thing. We have really tackled it well. Today they bowled 5-6 overs of short bowling to us early on and it really backfired on them.” The pacer opined that India’s reputation against short bowling has improved of late. “Whatever the reputation we had, in the last few years, we are playing totally opposite of that. We have managed the short ball pretty well on this tour. They wanted to bowl short but it didn’t really work well for them,” he said. “(If) Something doesn’t work for you, you have to come up with something else (but SA couldn’t). So that’s what probably worked to our advantage.” Bhuvi hailed the team’s 28-run win in the first T20I as clinical. “It was a complete performance from us. When we went in there, we knew what we wanted to do as best as a bowling team,” he said. “We lost the first two Test matches and then we came back. The momentum was on our side and if momentum is on your side, you have got to make it count,” he added.