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‘Smart work’ keeps pacer Bhuvneshwar ahead of the competition

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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 CricketCountry.com 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.”


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Australia refuse to tour Pakistan for proposed ODI matches, cite safety concerns

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Melbourne: Australia has turned down Pakistan Cricket Board’s request to play two One Day International (ODI) matches in the country, citing security concerns. The PCB had asked Cricket Australia to play two of the five ODIs, which are slated to be played in UAE, in Pakistan, but security concerns made Cricket Australia decide against the same.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, though the proposal has been rejected by the Australian cricket board, it has assured the PCB that they would be open to the idea in the future.

“We want to see international cricket return to Pakistan – the country has a huge passion for it,” said a CA spokesperson.

 

“However, the safety of our players and support staff is our number one priority and we won’t compromise that. We’ll continue to take advice from a range of government agencies and our own security intelligence and act on this accordingly.”

“At this stage, from an Australia team perspective, we are not contemplating moving our current bilateral-tour arrangements from taking on Pakistan in the UAE, when they host the next series but we do remain open to the idea of playing in the country again. We formally advised the PCB of this position in early January,” he added.

The PCB has in return, declined reports of Australia refusing to tour Pakistan, terming negotiations with Cricket Australia (CA) as currently ‘open and ongoing’.

Australia have not played an away series against Pakistan since 1998 which PCB chairman Ehsan Mani had attempted to address during the former’s recent Test series against the Asian side.

Mani attempted to convince CA chief executive Kevin Roberts to schedule an away series against Pakistan, urging them to follow the lead of Sri Lanka, West Indies and Zimbabwe who had toured the nation since 2017.

Sri Lanka’s return was hailed as a major boost considering the deadly attack on their players in Lahore in 2009.

Australian ODI captain Aaron Finch and Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja have recently expressed a desire to tour Pakistan, in case the security concerns were addressed.

“Obviously, whatever Cricket Australia tells us, that’ll be the big thing. We’ll leave it to the administrators. They’re pretty good at taking care of us and making sure everything’s safe,” said Khawaja.

“I was born in Pakistan so it won’t be too different for me, but it’s still a while away,” he added.

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Federer ponders over his ‘miraculous’ career after Murray’s early retirement prospect

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London: As the tennis world continued to digest the prospect of Andy Murray`s retirement, an evergreen Roger Federer pondered the “luck” of his longevity on Sunday ahead of his bid for a hat-trick of Australian Open titles.

Murray`s announcement that Melbourne Park could be his last tournament as a professional has made 37-year-old Federer`s career seem all the more miraculous.

Seeking a 21st Grand Slam title and a record seventh in Melbourne, the Swiss will plough into his 20th consecutive Australian Open on Monday with a first round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

 

While suffering an assortment of niggles common to all hardened professionals, Federer`s only major layoff came in 2016, after he tore his meniscus when running a bath for his twin daughters.

It happened a day after losing the Australian Open semi-final to winner Novak Djokovic, but a year later, he was back raising a fifth trophy at the tournament.

While knowing the limits of his body and full of praise for his team for being able to patch him up repeatedly, Federer admitted that fortune had played a part in his longevity.

“I definitely needed a little bit of luck,” he told reporters at Melbourne Park.

“If you look at how unlucky things were with the incident here a few years ago when I ran the bath, I guess the knee, that part of the body was ready to go.

“Could have happened easily in the match against Novak, but it didn`t, maybe because I was warmed up. I have no idea what happened. I think you also need a little bit of luck.”

The 31-year-old Murray has been far less fortunate, with major hip surgery a year ago doing nothing to stop the pain that has driven the Scot to distraction and the brink of retirement.

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Barcelona on lookout for striker after Munir sale: Coach Ernesto

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London: Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said that the club were looking to sign a centre forward in the January transfer window after selling Munir El Haddadi to Sevilla.

The league leaders want back-up for Luis Suarez after Sevilla agreed a one-million-euro ($1.15-million) deal to buy Spain international Munir on Friday, leaving the Uruguayan as the only No. 9 at the club, playing between Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele.

“We have to look at it, it`s clear that after Munir`s departure we have a space,” Valverde told reporters on Saturday.

 

“We`ll see if we can sign a player, although we have to take into account the club`s economic conditions. We will see if we can, if someone comes.”

Asked about Chelsea striker Alvaro Morata, who has been linked to Barcelona in Spanish media reports, Valverde said: “I can only say the same thing — that he`s a great player, that he`s at another team, that we respect that a lot, etcetera.”

Barcelona are currently leading the La Liga with 40 points, with Atletico Madrid trailing them in second place with 35 points.

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