“It’s not easy to run in and throw those knuckleballs,” Steyn told ESPNcricinfo’s analysis program T20 Time:Out. “It takes a lot of confidence and skill to bowl a knuckleball. And Bhuvi clearly has all that. It’s no surprise he bowled as well as tonight. He’s so good.”
“A few months ago he was missing something and he seems to have found it now. He looks a lot more confident now. When I was with him at the IPL a few months ago, it seemed like he had lost a bit. He rode between those 125 and 130 km/h, especially at the T20 World Cup in Dubai [the UAE]† When we got to the IPL, he seemed to pick up his pace a bit. He operated between 133 and 137, sometimes he touched 140, you know the one strange ball.
“He played every game in the IPL. He knew he was going to play and he was able to show his skills. He got some rhythm, he got shape and bang.”
Bhuvneshwar’s determination, Steyn says, will also help him cement his place on India’s side for the T20 World Cup. At present, Jasprit Bumrah and Harshal Patel are the only seamen who can be regarded as sureties in the first XI.
“I asked him [Bhuvneshwar] if he had scored goals for the IPL,” Steyn said, “and he secretly said to me, ‘I’d love to win the purple cap one more time.’ And I thought: this is fantastic. It just goes to show that this man is determined and he wants to prove, not just to India, but to the world, that he’s still pretty much a force to be reckoned with.
“I think that includes what could possibly happen to him later this year. I mean, he could really wink and go to the World Cup. He definitely understands his game, he knows when to train, he has confidence in his ability and he has these little goals that he really didn’t have to tell anyone, but he would mention it every now and then that I could hear it.”
In recent years, Bhuvneshwar has suffered from a back injury, a hamstring injury and a thigh injury, but Steyn thinks the sailor has his body under control quite well now.
“He didn’t really come to training” [at the IPL] because he just had his body under control and relied on himself,” said Steyn. “The day of the match he would walk to the center and bowl probably three to four overs warm up before the match started, and just be a true professional .
“Maybe he came back from injury but he managed so well through the IPL – played all games and bowled well in all games and is now able to continue that kind of momentum.”
“I think it’s the simplicity with which he does his business [that makes him special]† The control he has, the variations he has, and to execute those variations in high pressure games just shows how much confidence he has.”