CUTTACK: India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar on Saturday said the bowlers let stand-in skipper Rishabh Pant down in the high-scoring first T20 International against South Africa.
Elevated to captaincy after designated skipper KL Rahul pulled out on the eve of the series opener after a groin injury, Pant had a forgettable outing leading the side for the first time ever, even as his bowlers struggled with their line and length.
Bhuvenshwar backed the wicketkeeper-batter and said he’s a long way to go.
“He’s a young captain and it was his first match. I’m sure he will try to do better and improve as the series progresses. Generally the captain is as good as the team and it’s a team effort.
“Our bowling did not go off well and let him down. If we did well then you would have hailed his decision-making skills. I’m sure he will do well,” Bhuvenshwar said.
The experienced seamer, however, refused to read too much into their forgettable bowling display at the Ferozshah Kotla and expressed optimism about a strong comeback in the second match.
In the absence of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, Bhuvneshwar is leading the Indian pace attack in the ongoing five-match series.
India could not defend 212 as the rampaging South African duo of David Miller and Rassie van der Dussen struck half-centuries to hunt down the target with five balls to spare and go 1-0 up in the series.
“There wasn’t any big discussion as anyone can have an off day. As a bowling unit, we had an off day but that’s okay we just want to come back in the next match,” Bhuvneshwar said at the pre-match press conference here.
“It was the first match of the series and everybody was coming out of the IPL, almost everyone in the team had a good IPL. Everyone knows what needs to be done and things to improve on.
“We are aware that we didn’t bowl well in the first match. So we hope to improve, bowl well and level the series. We still have four matches to go, we have matches in hands to bounce back,” he said.
In the first game, Team India fielded a new-look pace attack in Bhuvneshwar, Harshal Patel and Avesh Khan, but none of them could make an impact against the marauding South Africans.
Bhuvneshwar said it’s about taking responsibility and improving in every match ahead of the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to be held in Australia in October-November.
“My target is not any different. I just have to bowl in the same way as in the power play or in the death overs. Yes, in absence of them, I try to take up responsibility, focus on improving in every match before going to the T20 World Cup.”





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