Bhuvneshwar Kumar has revealed that MS Dhoni advised him to build his innings like he does in Tests during their unbeaten 100-run partnership for the eighth wicket in the second ODI against Sri Lanka yesterday. The pacer scored an unbeaten 53 runs which helped India register a three-wicket win.
India snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Sri Lanka yesterday as Bhuvneshwar Kumar and MS Dhoni stitched together a hundred run partnership which helped India take a 2-0 lead in the 5-match ODI series. The duo’s efforts saved India after an uncharacteristic batting collapse which saw the Men in Blue lose 6 wickets for 11 runs as Akila Dhanajaya picked up four of those wickets in the space of 9 balls. However, it was then that Dhoni and Kumar came to the fore and Kumar revealed what the Indian stumper said to him at the beginning of their partnership.
"When I went in to bat, MS told me to play my natural game like I play in Test cricket and don't take any pressure as we had a lot of overs at that time. We knew if we played them out we would chase easily," Bhuvneshwar said at the post-match press conference.
"I knew there is nothing to lose in this situation as we were already seven down. I was just thinking that I can play and that I have to support MS as much as I can. And that's what I tried to do," he added.
Chasing what should have been as easily gettable target of 237, India got off to a dream start as Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan managed a 109-run opening partnership. However, it was Lankan off-spinner Akila Dananjaya who turned the game on its head for the home side as he picked 4 wickets in the space of nine balls which saw India collapse to 121 for 6 and Kumar too was taken aback by India’s collapse as he said. "It was a little surprising because we had a very good opening partnership. Then 3-4 wickets fell quickly so it was a bit of a panic situation for us. There was no message as such from the dressing room or MS Dhoni.
"The only thing was they wanted me to play as long as possible. I also wanted to do the same thing because that was the only chance to win if I could play all those 47 overs. That was my plan," he said
But Kumar was untroubled by the off-spinner and he spoke of what helped him to weather the storm, saying, "I had a plan against him. He is an off-spinner but he was also bowling leg spinners and googlies so it was a surprise for us. I just wanted to play him for the wrong one or the googlies, which he was
"Whatever wickets he took that was on the googly, the incoming delivery, so my plan was to counter his incoming deliveries. Initially, it was a bit difficult to read him from the hand but later on when I played him for 10-15 balls I could read his variations," he explained.
Kumar’s partnership with Dhoni too had its own share of luck as Dhoni played onto his stumps in the 34th over but the bails remained unmoved while the pace bowler also survived a DRS shout for LBW in the next over, before switching gears.
A major aspect that worked in India’s favour last night was the fact that they weren’t chasing too big a target which meant that both Dhoni and Kumar didn’t have to play extravagant shots in order to see India over the line and Kumar acknowledged the same saying, "It was a normal plan because we knew that we didn't need to do anything different. We tried that whatever opportunity we get for singles or doubles we will not leave that because by adding singles we wouldn't reach a stage of needing 6-7 runs per over as we didn't have many batsmen left. We weren't running extra hard or trying to do anything special. We just played normally.
While MS Dhoni has seen India over the finish line on numerous occasions in the past, which has earned him the title of being one of the best finishers in the world, Kumar’s contribution to the cause was commendable last night as he registered his maiden ODI half-century and that too one that turned out to be a match-winning one. Finally, while Kumar was surprised at his success with the bat, he also credited India’s assistant coach Sanjay Bangar for the same. "I never thought in my dreams that I would score fifty in One-dayers. Not fifty but match winning knock because One Day is a kind of format which doesn't suit my batting as I am not the kind of batsman who can hit big sixes.
"But that kind of situation was perfect for me because it was totally a Test match situation. Thanks to Sanjay Bangar, he was working really hard on me during the Test series. Whenever I go into the nets Bangar helps me to counter those things, like I have to go through the last session of a Test. So it was
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