Bhuvneshwar Kumar, India's top bowler in the ongoing Test series against England with 11 wickets, has said his good form with the bat has been a major factor in helping him perform well with the ball. Bhuvneshwar, who struck two half-centuries in the drawn opening Test in Nottingham, picked up six wickets in the second Test at Lord's to be the pick of the Indian bowlers.
"If you think like a batsman, you have an upper-hand over the man you're bowling to," Bhuvneshwar told bcci.tv. "All the runs that I have scored here have played a huge role in the way I have bowled. Having batted there for long hours, I know where the batsman will find it difficult to play the ball.
"I can anticipate what is going on in his mind and plan the next ball accordingly. The runs also give you confidence, which gets transformed into courage of conviction when you come on to bowl," he said.
Bhuvneshwar said it felt good to make his mark with the ball at Lord's. "Luckily it has turned out like that. I am happy I was able to keep that little tradition going. It will be good to see my name up on the honours board with my two state mates, RP Singh and Praveen Kumar," he said referring to the two other Indians who picked up five-wicket hauls on their Lord's debut.
Bhuvneshwar said his bowling style is similar to Praveen, who handed him useful tips ahead of the tour. He said, "...he [Praveen] just told me, 'you know what you have to do'. He was very helpful in terms of giving me information about the different grounds and their peculiarities. For instance, of Lord's he told me about the slope.
"He said you'll feel a bit awkward at times bowling there but be mentally prepared. Honestly, when you look at the ground, you can see the slope but once you start bowling, you don't feel much difference. It's not as peculiar as people have made it out to be," he added.
Asked about his equation with skipper MS Dhoni, Bhuvneshwar heaped praise on the captain, saying that he gave him a free run when it came to setting up fields.
"MS has always been a bowler's captain. Even in my debut match he told me, 'set your own fields and make your own plans. If I feel the need to change anything, I will tell you'. Since then it has worked that way and he is very open to suggestions if I want something different from what he does," he said.
"We discuss the plans and strategies and that has helped us build good understanding between us. So far my plan in this series has been to get the batsman out behind him. For that you have to bowl a tight line and length. At times MS also stands up to me. That's for when the batsman is trying to get forward to cut the swing.
"If the keeper is standing up, in the fear of getting stumped, the batsman will not try to walk down the wicket to negate the swing. We have figured out when to use that ploy and against which batsmen. Sometimes, he moves back and forth in a single over. That is the kind of planning that I do with MS," he added.
Speaking about his experience of bowling on the Trent Bridge track in the opening Test, Bhuvneshwar said the pitch was quite similar to the ones in India.
"The conditions and the wicket at Trent Bridge were very similar to those in India. But the difference was that in India, because the ball starts to turn very early, the spinners do most of the bowling and my role is much different," he said.
"I mostly bowl with the new ball while it is swinging and get some wickets upfront. Here I have bowled a lot of overs and have had a role to play throughout the day."