On the eve of the third and final One-Day International (ODI) against New Zealand at the Green Park here on Sunday, India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar conceded that unlike the other recent series (against Sri Lanka and Australia), the Kiwis have posed a strong challenge to clinch the brief rubber.
The series is currently locked at 1-1, after India bounced back to win the second game in Pune. The tourists won the opening game in Mumbai.
“We have not been challenged like this in a while and it is a short series. So there was pressure in the last game that we could lose the series (having lost the first match),” the 27-year-old told reporters at the pre-match press conference here.
“But the way we came back shows the character of the team. Sunday’s match is also about handling pressure. We will try to play like we played the last game,” he added.
Asked about the approach in a brief three-match rubber in comparison to a longer one, the pacer said: “It is a short series but mental approach is the same as any other series. But as I said, we have not been challenged in a while at home, so everyone is looking forward to the challenge.”
Bhuvneshwar currently forms a potent force in the company of Jasprit Bumrah, emerging as skipper Virat Kohli’s go-to bowlers both up front and in the death overs.
“As a player, I feel I have grown in the past couple of years. I have improved my pace without losing on the swing. That is something I am really happy about. In batting also I have improved a bit,” the Meerut-born player said.
The right-arm pacer also credited India bowling coach Bharat Arun for helping him get his swing back.
“So he (Bharat Arun) shared some fine points that helped me get my swing back. His role in the team is invaluable,” Bhuvneshwar said.
With most of the top Kiwi players, including skipper Kane Williamson, Martin Guptill and Trent Boult playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Bhuvneshwar felt it was tough to plan against them.
“Last series I played against New Zealand the planning was easy, it is the same for them also. Knowing them well and vice versa makes planning tougher. So it is a positive as well as a negative,” said Bhuvneshwar, who plays for the Sunrisers Hyderabad along side Williamson.