Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja has defended Team India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who conceded a six under pressure in the penultimate over of the second T20I against Sri Lanka. Raja stated that sometimes even the best are unable to deliver in crunch situations, and that is very much a part of the game.
Team India were in the hunt going into the second last over of the match as Sri Lanka needed 20 off 12 balls. In the third ball of the 19th over, Bhuvneshwar Kumar bowled a full toss, which was lofted over wide long-on for a maximum by Chamika Karunaratne. Sri Lanka eased to victory after that.
Sharing his thoughts on the match on his YouTube channel, Raja refused to blame Bhuvneshwar Kumar and praised India’s bowlers for putting up a tough fight. The former cricketer stated:
“The penultimate over bowled by Bhuvi (Bhuveshwar Kumar), in which he was hit for a six, turned the course of the match. It happens, sometimes even experienced hands are unable to deliver. Overall though India put up a very good fight. Bowling was not an issue for Team India, it was the batting that had major problems. That was because they had only five batters available because of COVID.”
Raja added that there was too much pressure on the Indian batters as they could not lose many wickets early. He elaborated:
“They had to maintain the pace as well while keeping wickets in hand, that too on a difficult surface. Team India never got into any sort of rhythm because of all those issues. And so, despite having wickets in hand, India couldn’t crack the whip and did not score as many runs as they should have. Still, they managed a fighting score. If they had fielded better, they could have created even more pressure on Sri Lanka.”
Six off Bhuvneshwar Kumar changed the course of the match: Muttiah Muralitharan
According to former Sri Lanka off-spinner Muttiah Muralitharan, the six Chamika Karunaratne slammed off Bhuvneshwar Kumar was crucial in the context of the game.
He opined that the hosts would have found 14-15 runs hard to chase in the final over. Speaking to ESPN Cricinfo, Muralitharan said:
“132 was not a par score, but India gave a very good fight because it looked at one time we’ll win the match, but Dhananjaya played well and Karunaratne came and that six he hit off the full toss changed the course of the match and changed the equation. So, if we had 14-15 to chase in the last over, it would have been difficult for Sri Lanka.”
Apart from conceding the six, Bhuvneshwar Kumar also dropped a catch of Minod Bhanuka off Kuldeep Yadav’s bowling in the 12th over of the innings.
With the series tied 1-1, India and Sri Lanka will lock horns in the decider on Thursday.