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They say numbers don’t lie. But they don’t always reveal the entire truth as well. If anyone were to look at the scorecard of the Sunrisers Hyderabad vs Rajasthan Royals game in Abu Dhabi, they’d see 3.3-0-21-1 written against the name of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
However, what those numbers don’t tell you is that in his third over – sixth of the RR innings – Bhuvi almost got Watson to nick one behind with a peach of an out-swinger and foxed Ajinkya Rahane with the one that shaped back in. Both these balls deserved wickets but none fetched him one. In the end, the Royals just managed to scamper home.
In a chat with iplt20.com, Bhuvi relived those crucial misses which could have been game-changing moments. He enthused over bowling with Dale Steyn and spoke of his best T20 spell.
You loved bowling in these conditions!
Oh, yes. These were the perfect conditions for me – there was grass on the wicket and I was getting the ball to swing. I know that when I get conditions like this, I become a different bowler altogether.
You deserved a wicket in your third over, didn’t you?
Yes, I thought I did. I bowled an out-swinger to Watson and the one that came in to Ajinkya. Both were lucky to miss the edge. When you are bowling that well, you do feel like you should have ended up with more wickets. But it was equally satisfying to see Ishant pick up a wicket in the very next over. When you create pressure in the previous over for your partner to strike, it is sometimes as satisfying as picking up a wicket yourself. That’s how you win matches – bowling in pairs.
Does it affect your bowling when you’re a part of such world class unit?
It does not affect my bowling as such but it does affect the kind of bowler I am. You learn more when bowling alongside someone like Dale. There are so many little things I can pick up from him that can help me become a better bowler. That is the biggest positive of being part of such an attack. I bowled with Dale a few times in the nets but talking to him during the match about specific batsmen’s weaknesses and planning was a learning experience.
This happened some time back but tell me, did that spell against West Indies (3-0-3-0) and especially to Gayle have any effect on you as a bowler?
It did. West Indies have a very strong top-order and it is not easy to bowl to them without conceding runs. Although I did not take any wicket, it was the best spell I have ever bowled in T20 cricket. Yes, the ball was swinging but it was only because I was putting it in the right areas. I learned a lesson that day that if I stick to my guns without being distracted, I can be quite a handful to handle.
With Ishant on one side and Mishra on the other, did you feel like you’re bowling for India?
Actually, I did. I saw Ishant, Mishra and Shikhar was the captain. At times, I did get a feeling that I am playing for India. But a look at the jersey and the logo on it got me back in the franchise mode.
Rajasthan Royals have been one IPL team that has created more stars than they have bought. They have proved that if given the right role, responsibility and freedom, a fringe player can turn into a match-winner.
When RR bought Rajat Bhatia at the 2014 Player Auction, he was told that he is expected to shoulder all the responsibility that a senior player in any team would. He would have to guide the youngsters and create match-winning plays on the field.
Bhatia did it in his first match in the Royals colours. With his modest off-cutter and slower one, Bhatia dismissed SRH’s two most dangerous batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan (38) and David Warner (32) – to break a potentially dangerous partnership. As a result, the Royals were chasing an equally modest 133. Then, when his team faltered against the Sunrisers’ incredibly strong bowling attack, Bhatia whipped Dale Steyn over midwicket to score a crucial boundary in the 19th over.
Having helped his side register their first win in Pepsi IPL 2014, Bhatia spoke to iplt20.com about his new role in the new team. The veteran Delhi all-rounder was forthright in admitting his limitations and told us how he strived to achieve success while playing within them.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
The slower ones continue to do the trick for you, don’t they?
To be honest, I know I am not someone who can bowl at 140 or even 130 kph. So, in order to play to my strength, I ensure that the batsman has to use his power to score boundaries rather than me giving him the pace to hit me.
Does the ploy of bowling the slower ones and cutters work particularly well against attacking batsmen?
Rather than bowling to the batsman, I bowl to the situation. I try to assess what the batsman wants at that time and try not to give it to him. I try to give him the ball he doesn’t want in order to block the shot he wants to play. That’s what I have been doing and I have dismissed some big batsmen. That gives me further confidence to continue with my plan.
Which wicket did you enjoy more – that of your Delhi mate or of the Aussie powerhouse?
To be very honest, Shikhar’s wicket was very important for us. I got him once during his first few games with the Sunrisers and I was really pleased to get him today.
How is your role different with RR than it was at KKR?
I have to shoulder more responsibility here. I want to make sure that besides my bowling, whenever I get a chance to bat, I utilise it and contribute substantially. That’s what I tried to do today and I got that boundary at a crucial juncture. These are the small things which if you keep doing, the match will be in your favour.
You and Stuart Binny are two key players for RR as all-rounders. Do you indulge in many discussions about your respective games and your roles in the team?
Stuart is a power-hitter and a very good all-rounder. He has just started to play for the country as well and there are many things I can learn from him. If there is anything he can learn from me, I would be happy to oblige.
Your years of experience playing in the Indian domestic circuit gives you immense knowledge about the Indian boys and conditions. How much of a role do you play in the leadership group?
Rahul (Dravid) bhai told me from the beginning that I have to play the role of the senior and experienced player in this team. I have played all the seasons of the IPL and know some stuff about the Indian players. He told me it was my responsibility to guide the young Indian players in the team and I am trying to do my best in passing on to them whatever I know. As for me, I keep learning from Rahul bhai – he is a great man – and I am sure at the end of this IPL, I will be a different player.