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‘Smart work’ keeps pacer Bhuvneshwar ahead of the competition

Mumbai :Roughly six years into his international career, Bhuvneshwar Kumar has found a way to sustain himself at the highest level which has kept him ahead of the competition. ‘Smart work’ is the mantra for the 28-year-old pacer who has the lowest bowling average (26.09) among Indian fast bowlers since his Test debut in 2013.

“The only difference for me is the mindset you have towards the game. I believe in smart work,” Bhuvneshwar tells on the sidelines of a promotional event for ASICS. “Everybody puts in the hard work, but being smart about it is how I look at it. We play so much of cricket that we have to keep a tab on everything – from getting proper rest to recovery and practice. Therefore, for me it’s the smart work,” said the pacer.

Speed and swing are the two traits that fast bowlers strive to combine, but few have been successful in finding the right balance between the two. Bhuvneshwar is no different. He recently added a bit of pace but seemed to have comprised on swing. But he is close to getting the balance right.

“It is very tough to find the right balance between speed and swing,” he says. “If you look at the fast bowlers all around the world, after a certain limit or pace, they also struggle to swing the ball. For me as well, it was difficult in the first series after adding a bit of pace to get my swing going. But I practiced hard, bowled in the nets, consulted with the coaching staff and got the balance going. And it has started to work for me.”

Bhuvneshwar missed out on the high-profile England Tests owing to a back injury. Even though he was disappointed not to play, Bhuvneshwar realises it is an occupational hazard.

“Missing the England series was disappointing, but I had almost a month to get back to full fitness with the rehab in NCA,” he says. “I would not say it was a difficult time, but it was a frustrating time, because as a player I would want to play. But we have to realise that injuries are part of life, and missing out on certain series is part of the game. I kept that in mind and did my rehab. I had a positive mindset and that helped me recover quicker.”

Bhuvneshwar last played Tests in South Africa in January this year, and in his absence, Jasprit Bumrah stepped up by claiming 14 wickets in three Tests against England after missing the first two. Last week, Umesh Yadav claimed 10 wickets in the Hyderabad Test versus West Indies to make the most of a rare opportunity with Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah rested, and Ishant Sharma nursing an injury.

For Bhuvneshwar, such competition is good for the Indian team.

“It is healthy competition,” he says. “We know that we all are different bowlers, and some of them for different formats. And we learn from the teammates and other as well. Off the field we are very close and it is all about learning. Everyone practices in a very similar way, we all have same support staff and facilities.”