Rajkot: The much-maligned Indian Premier League (IPL) today got a dose of positive response when swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar credited the T20 League for improving him as a bowler at the death in limited overs cricket.
"IPL has helped me in improving my death bowling. I have been bowling the first few overs with new ball and at the end with the old one," said the India medium pacer ahead of tomorrow's third One-Day International against South Africa here tomorrow.
India levelled the series 1-1 at Indore after having lost the series opener to the visitors at Kanpur, and Bhuvneshwar did his bit towards this cause with excellent figures of 3 for 41.
He also rejected suggestions that he has lost the ability to move the ball in the air.
"I don't think so. The ball swings only in the first 1 to 3 overs. If conditions are favourable, I can swing the ball more. I don't think I have lost any swing. And death bowling has given me confidence," said the Uttar Pradesh player.
"I don't think there has been a change in my bowling role. Being a swing bowler, bowling at the death is just an added facet in my bowling. I used to bowl a lot at the death while bowling in the IPL but it serves as a confidence booster that I can do a lot more with the ball at the start of the innings and at the death. It is good to bowl with the new ball and the old ball," he added.
Asked about the flat tracks on which the series is being played, Kumar said he and his other bowling mates did not read too much into the wickets and have grown in confidence after helping the team defend a small total of 247 in the previous game.
"As bowlers we don't worry about the wickets whether they are flat or not. We are very confident after the way we bowled in the last match. They are a good side and we have plans for every individual.
"On spinners set up the game for you/what is your role in the side he said, adding, "If you see the spinners and pacers are complementing each other really well. As a bowling unit you get a lot of confidence if the spinners and pacers are bowling as a team."
"If the medium pacers are having a tough time, the spinners do a good job to restrict the runs and pick wickets.
There is overall support from all the bowlers," he added.
Kumar said that the blistering match-winning knock of 92 not out off 86 balls by under-fire skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni boosted the bowlers' confidence that they could set up a win.
"The atmosphere was always normal even when were not winning matches. But after the victory in the last match there is certainly a positive vibe in the team. MS Dhoni's knock gave the team a lot of confidence in the previous game. But in that game a lot of our bowlers also faced close to 25-30 balls which helped them to figure out how the pitch was playing."
The victory was crucial to India's chances in the series, said Kumar, pointing out that it would be difficult to come back from 0-2 down.
"In a five-match series it is always difficult to make a comeback if you lose two matches in a row. But the way we came back in the last game and won it was commendable. That win has brought in a lot of confidence in the side.
"We were down in the first innings losing a lot of wickets on the trot but we made a good comeback to win the match. Now we are riding high on confidence. The rest of the matches are very vital for us and if we win this match there will be a lot more confidence in the side. Every player is assigned a particular role and if a player can play his role to perfection we can expect a good game."
According to Kumar, the changes made in the rules in the last power play period of an innings have certainly made the field a level one between the bat and the ball.
It has been quite a help for the bowlers with an extra fielder outside the circle in the last ten overs of the match.
The bowlers have got more confidence while bowling at the death now since as a bowler you know that you have an additional fielder who is protecting the boundary.
"The bowlers are a lot more motivated to bowl towards the death. In the past you would think that even after bowling well you would go for runs. I believe it has now become an even contest between bat and ball."