In-form Indian pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar says not losing the ability to swing the ball despite adding extra pace to his armoury has made him a much better bowler than what he was two years ago.
Kumar, along with Jasprit Bumrah, has formed a potent new ball combination in the limited overs cricket for India.
They are also an asset for the team in the death overs with their perfectly placed yorkers and other variations. And their coming of age has not gone unnoticed with skipper Virat Kohli praising them highly after the series levelling win against New Zealand in Pune on Wednesday.
However, maintaining the balance between swing and pace was not easy for Kumar, who suddenly lost his natural ability to move the ball after adding extra pace. Now he has got his mojo back, courtesy India bowling coach Bharat Arun.
"He is somebody who manages bowlers really well. At this level you don't want to get too much into the technique. He sometimes pinpoints certain things which can really improve your bowling. For example, I increased my pace but I lost my swing. I did not know how to go about it.
"So he shared some fine points that helped me get my swing back. His role in the team is invaluable," said Kumar ahead of the series decider against New Zealand here tomorrow.
Bhuvneshwar has not just worked on his bowling over the past two seasons but also on batting, which has made him a handy player in the lower-order.
"As a player I feel I have grown in the past couple of years. I have improved my pace without losing on the swing. That is something I am really happy about. In batting also I have improved a bit," he said.
Talking about the three-ODI series, which is currently tied 1-1, Kumar said it will be another pressure game tomorrow after the second ODI in Pune, considering the team has not been pushed to the limit like this in a long time.
If India win tomorrow, it will be their seventh series victory in a row.
"We have not been challenged like this in a while and it is a short series. So there was pressure in the last game that we could lose the series (having lost the first match). But the way we came back shows the character of the team. Tomorrow's match is also about handling pressure. We will try to play like we played the last game," said the pacer.
Asked about the approach in a three-match series compared to a longer one, Kumar said: "It is a short series but mental approach is the same as any other series. But as I said, we have not been challenged in a while at home, so everyone is looking forward to the challenge."
Kumar further said that playing against familiar foes like New Zealand can work both ways. Most of the top Kiwi players feature in the IPL including captain Kane Williamson and Trent Boult, who have been Kumar's teammates at Sunrisers Hyderabad.
"Last series I played against New Zealand the planning was easy, it is the same for them also. Knowing them well and vice versa makes planning tougher. So it is a positive as well as a negative," he insisted.
Asked about his views on WADA threat on derecognising NADA if BCCI refuses to come under its purview, Kumar refused to get into the controversy, saying, "We have no say in the matter. It is up to the ICC and BCCI to decide. We will follow their instructions."