Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni helped the Indian side on Thursday to clinch a thrilling victory by three wickets in the second one-day match against Sri Lanka in Pallekele after India lost seven wickets for 22 runs. Bhuvneshwar played a 53-run knock to make a 100-run partnership with Dhoni for an unbeaten eight wicket.
“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 in Pallekele.
“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 said.
Sri Lanka’s young off-spinner Akila Dananjaya showed some magic with the ball, picking up six wickets for 54, which also included his first five wicket haul in one-day cricket.
On being asked about India’s collapse, Bhuvneshwar 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.
He added: “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.”
Bhuvneshwar also told about his plan against Dananjaya, when he came out to bat in such pressure situation,”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 bringing in to me. And whatever was going away from me I wasn’t really worried about that.
“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.
Bhuvneshwar got away with a DRS shout for LBW and then went on to attack the Lankan bowlers, helping Dhoni from the other end, finishing the match with 16 balls to spare.
“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,” said Bhuvneshwar.
“MS said play as you want to play. So at one particular stage I felt that I could play some attacking but risk free shots on which I had full confidence. So it’s not like that he gave me any responsibility or asked me to play any big shots.
It’s just that the stage was such that I had confidence on myself that if I get such a ball I can hit it,” he added. This was Bhuvneshwar’s first half-century in ODIs, and with this he became the first Indian batsman at number nine to score a fifty after Praveen Kumar.
“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.”
He also praised India’s bowling coach Sanjay Bangar for his innings, “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 same kind of situation and that was a bit familiar for me,” he signed off.