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How MS Dhoni’s approach helped Bhuvneshwar improve as death bowler

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, while in conversation with Deep Dasgupta on ESPNcricinfo, revealed how he evolved into one of the best death bowlers in white-ball cricket, and the role MS Dhoni played in that.

The India pacer credited his first season with the Sunrisers Hyderabad for his transformation. Bhuvneshwar did bowl yorkers in first-class and age-group cricket, but said the art disappeared from his repertoire “for two-three years”.

“I used to bowl yorkers previously as well,” he said. “When I started playing international cricket, sometimes I got a couple of overs in the death and sometimes not. When I was playing Ranji Trophy or age-group cricket, I did have that ability to bowl yorkers, but that disappeared completely for two-three years.

“But after my pace increased and especially when I joined Sunrisers Hyderabad – I had already played for India for two-three years – and they wanted me to open the bowling and bowl at the death as well, so there was the added responsibility.

“In my first year with the Hyderabad-based franchise, during practice sessions, I would bowl with the new ball to work on my swing and also try and bowl a few yorkers. But in the 14 matches that I played that season, I learnt that you will leak runs here and there and you’ve got to face that pressure. So the 2014 season was a turning point for me from a learning point of view and how to deal with pressure in the IPL and while bowling in death overs.”

Bhuvneshwar gave some of the credit of his death bowling prowess to Dhoni, saying he learnt a lot from the former India captain’s ability to focus on the process over the result.

“I try to think in the same way [focussing on the process]. Like you mentioned MS Dhoni, I have observed him and learnt, even though he is a batsman, on how to play the role of a finisher. You know that a result is inevitable, you’ll either win or lose. But you need to focus on the small things and the process. If you focus on the process, it would seem that you are detached from the result. If you do your job well, you’ll end up winning, and if you don’t, you will lose.

“So I try and pay attention to where I want to deliver every ball. I remember, in the couple of good seasons I have had in the IPL, I was in that zone I referred to before, where I was detached from the result. I was so focussed on the process that the result had become secondary. But when I looked back at those seasons as a whole, the ultimate aim of winning the matches was more on the positive side than the negative.”

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