‘In 18 balls in last 3 matches, he gave away 49 runs. That’s real concern’: Gavaskar’s no-nonsense verdict on India star

Team India faced a five-wicket loss in the first T20I of the series against Australia on Tuesday. Despite putting a strong score of 208/6 in 20 overs, India failed to defend the target as a combined effort from the Aussie batting lineup ensured a cruising victory for the world champions in Mohali. India’s concerns in the death overs returned to haunt the side as Harshal Patel conceded 22 runs in the 18th over, while experienced pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar gave away 16 in the next.

Bhuvneshwar’s form, in particular, has become a concern for the side as the senior pacer had also been expensive throughout the Asia Cup 2022. Against Pakistan in the Super 4 stage, Bhuvneshwar had registered figures of 1/40 in four overs; in the side’s next game against Sri Lanka, he had conceded 14 runs in the all-important 19th over as the Lankans clinched a thrilling win to eliminate India from the tournament.

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As the 32-year-old pacer proved expensive against Australia again, former India captain and batting great Sunil Gavaskar stated that the senior bowler’s performances have become a “real concern” for the side.

“I don’t think there was too much dew. We didn’t see the fielders or bowlers trying to use the towel to try and dry their fingers. That’s not an excuse. We didn’t bowl well. For example, that 19th over… that’s a real concern,” Gavaskar said on Sports Today following the game.

“Somebody like a Bhuvneshwar Kumar is going for runs every single time, when he is expected.. in 18 deliveries he has bowled in three matches against Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and now Australia, he has given away 49 runs. It is almost three runs per ball. Somebody with his experience and calibre, you expect he will give 35-36 runs in those 18 deliveries. That really is an area of concern,” said the former India skipper.

Gavaskar added that he hopes for an improved bowling performance when Jasprit Bumrah makes a return to the side. The star bowler had been away from international action since the limited-overs series against England in July earlier this year; he was forced to miss the Asia Cup due to an injury but is a part of the squad in the ongoing series against Australia.

“What we have seen in last few years is that has been one of the areas where India have suffered. They have not been able to defend goof scores. Maybe when Bumrah comes in it might be a completely different situation because he gets wickets at the top. India didn’t get those today as Australia got off to a flying start,” said Gavaskar.

“Having said that, it’s only the first match. Don’t forget, Australia are world champions. They are expected to do extraordinary things.”