The last couple of editions of the IPL witnessed the metamorphosis of Bhuvneshwar Kumar from just a new ball bowler to an exceptional death bowler.
The game against Kings XI Punjab in Hyderabad was just another instance of his perfect death bowling skills, as he single-handedly decimated Punjab with his maiden five-wicket haul in his IPL career.
Needing 160 to win, the visitors were rocked early, as Kumar removed opener Hashim Amla for a first ball duck. The middle overs were dominated by the Afghan duo of Mohammad Nabi and Rashid Khan. Despite an absolute blinder from Manan Vohra, his knock of 95 wasn’t enough to get the Kings XI Punjab through.
Post the win, skipper David Warner was in complete awe of Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
“An unbelievable game of cricket. Credit to Manan, the way he played. I was down on myself not getting momentum. It was a tough wicket. Credit to Bhuvi tonight, he was unbelievable. Manan made it look easy when he was clearing the ropes. But unfortunately there has to be one winner and it was us,” said Warner.
“I back all my bowlers, but when you’ve got Bhuvi in the sheds, you got to try and use him. Appreciate him for what he does. Fantastic contribution from both of the Afghanistan players. A bit disappointing with Rashid, he always holds high regards for himself, he was disappointed a bit. As I keep reiterating to the boys, last year we won a couple of close games. These games really gain momentum because you have that self-belief,” the Australian added.
Kumar was named the Man of the Match for his phenomenal bowling performance, and the pacer seemed relieved after a thriller of a game.
“T20 is a format where you expect the unexpected and Manan almost took the game away from us. Athletes always talk about believing in themselves and that’s what I did in the 19th over. I’ve overcome that pressure because I’ve done this job for SRH for last three years. I knew I had to bowl the 19th over, the match-defining over. I believed in myself,” he said.
“It wasn’t an easy wicket, it was a great effort from our batsmen who took us to 160. The way we started with the new ball was tremendous. Changing pace really worked for us. If you want to win the match defending 160 you have to take initial wickets, the likes of Maxwell, Miller and Morgan,” Kumar added.