London: Skipper Virat Kohli was all praise for medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who played a pivotal role in India’s clinical win over Australia in their World Cup fixture at the Kennington Oval.
On Sunday, Kumar bowled brilliantly during Australia’s big chase and kept the run flow in check, while picking up crucial wickets as the defending champions fell short by 36 runs from the 353-run target.
The 29-year-old was just immaculate with his line and lengths towards the start of the Australian innings and didn’t give any freebies to the Australian openers.
He was equally impressive in his second spell and picked up three wickets, including two in one over of Steve Smith (69) and Marcus Stoinis (0) and made sure Australia never got ahead during their chase.
He returned with figures of 3-50 in a match where even the likes of Jasprit Bumrah (3/61) and Mitchell Starc (1/74) went for plenty on a batting-friendly wicket.
Speaking at the post-match presentation, Kohli said, “You can’t take Bhuvi’s performances in the one-day format for granted. He’s a champion bowler and picks up wickets with the new ball as well as with the old.”
“It was a game changer (the wickets of Smith and Stoinis in the same over),” he added.
The Indian skipper also hinted that they will stick with Kumar in the upcoming matches as well and will include Mohammad Shami only when the conditions are overcast and the pitch has something to offers for the pacers. “For us if Shami plays, it has to be overcast conditions and the pitch has to offer a lot.”
He also revealed that the ODI 2-3 series loss against Australia earlier this year at home really motivated them to win Sunday’s World Cup game. “We were more motivated to win today because we lost the series in India being 2-0 up and there was no Mitchell Starc either. So, him coming makes their bowling line-up even stronger,” Kohli said at the post-match presser.
“I think we had to be at the top of our game and therefore, we couldn’t have asked for a better game to be honest in all the three departments... We played a really good one-day game today.
And with results in the past, we had to make sure that against this side, we win all the crucial moments because once you put your foot down off the peddle, this side capitalises and takes the game away. So, we are very pleased with the performance,” he added.
India, having registered wins in their first two matches, will now take on New Zealand on Thursday.