Kohli: Shardul and Bhuvneshwar should have been Player of the Match and Series
India's captain expressed his surprise at the choices for the awards, which went to Sam Curran and Jonny Bairstow respectively
India's seven-run win in the third ODI against England won them the series 2-1 and completed a sweep across formats. India had put up 329 and had England on the ropes at 257 for 8, but a career-best 83-ball 95* by Sam Curran kept England in the game till the end of the final over. Curran had also got the wicket of a free-flowing Rishabh Pant to end India's best partnership in their innings. In a relatively rare occurrence, players from the losing side were awarded the Player-of-the-Match and Player-of-the-Series awards, Curran winning the former and Jonny Bairstow the latter for topping the run-charts in the series with scores of 94, 124 and 1. India captain Virat Kohli expressed his surprise at the choices for the awards, holding that Shardul Thakur and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were better candidates for both.
"I am quite surprised that he (Thakur) wasn't the Man of the Match today, to be honest," Kohli told Star Sports at the post-match presentation ceremony. Thakur had figures of 4 for 67 and had earlier scored 30 off 21.
"Four wickets for 65 in ten overs and scoring 30 off 20 balls…And Bhuvi, again, a big contender for Man of the Series as well. Picking up six wickets at an economy of under six on these kind of wickets? For me, it's a no-brainer and I think these two guys were the difference during those middle overs and with the new ball as well. I think they were outstanding and a lot of credit goes to them for the series win."
Bhuvneshwar continued his fine form on his comeback to international cricket, following on from a stellar show in the T20Is to end the ODI series with six wickets in three games, at an economy rate of 4.65 - the best by a distance for any bowler in a series where the total of 300 was topped five times in six innings, and only a freak England collapse prevented it from being six out of six.
Thakur ended up as the highest wicket-taker in both limited-overs series, taking eight wickets in the T20Is and seven in the ODIs, employing his slower ball variations to good effect throughout.
Playing in bubbles for so long going to be very, very difficult
Kohli also reiterated that moving from bubble to bubble for extended periods of time was not a sustainable model for cricketers, saying the schedule needs to be looked at.
The Indian players will move to their respective IPL team bubbles for the tournament that starts on April 9, making it nearly four non-stop bubbles since the start of last year's IPL in September.
"As I said, a couple of days ago as well, scheduling is something that needs to be looked at in the future," Kohli said. "Because playing in bubbles for so long, two-three months, is going to be very, very difficult going forward. You can't expect everyone to be at the same level of mental strength. Sometimes you do get cooked, and you do feel like a bit of change. I'm sure that things will be discussed and things will change in the future as well. But a different tournament, so it brings in fresh challenges now heading into the IPL. "
Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo