The fifth and final T20I between India and South Africa at M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru was abandoned due to rain. Before the action was interrupted by rain, India were 28/2 in 3.3 overs, with Shreyas Iyer (0*) and Rishabh Pant (1*). With this, the series ended level at 2-2 with the trophy being shared by both sides. (Also Read | ‘At the moment he’s just short of confidence’: With T20 WC approaching, Sunil Gavaskar names India’s ‘impact player’)
Pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar scalped 6 wickets in the series, with four of them during the second T20I match. He was also adjudged as the Player of the Series. Following Bhuvneshwar’s stellar performance, South Africa head coach Mark Boucher was effusive in praise for the senior bowler.
“Bhuvi was special in this whole series as we came up against some quality bowling.” Bhuvneshwar took 6 wickets in the series, joint second highest in the series. He was also economical, conceding at 6.07 economy. Considering he was bowling the majority of his overs in the powerplay with only two fielders outside the circle.
His strongest performance came in Cuttack in the second T20I, where his bowling performance was heroic but not enough to stop the South African batters as they dismantled the spinners. In that match, he ended with figures of 4/13 from his four overs, knocking over the stumps of three top Proteas batsmen — Reeza Hendricks, Rassie van der Dussen, and Wayne Parnell — as well as having Dwaine Pretorius caught off a slower ball.
Bhuvneshwar also achieved several important records over the course of the series, including matching the most wickets taken in the powerplay by any bowler across all T20Is, and most South African wickets taken in the format. His performances as the spearhead of a young pace attack earned him many plaudits.
“He put us under pressure in Powerplays and barring one game (Delhi), where we got off to a good start, they have dominated us with both ball and bat in Powerplays.”
India did well in all the powerplays in the series, but were often dominated in the middle and latter stages of the innings. However, due to the strong starts provided by Bhuvneshwar in the last two matches played, India had the ability to apply the screws using the spinners in the middle overs, guiding them towards a victory.
Bhuvneshwar has been rewarded with the vice-captaincy of India in the tour to Ireland later this month. He will hope this strong spell is the beginning of his bid to be a starting player in the T20 World Cup in Australia later this year.