India seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar hinted that they might limit the usage of saliva to shine the white ball during the first ODI against South Africa on Thursday (12th March) as a precautionary measure in the wake of the deadly Novel Coronavirus outbreak.
Bhuvneshwar, however, said a decision on this will be taken by the team doctor during a meeting later on Wednesday.
"We have thought about this thing (not using saliva) but I can't say right now we will not use saliva because if we don't use saliva then how will we shine the ball. Then we will get hit and you people will say you are not bowling well," the 31-year-old pacer, who is returning to the team after recovering from sports hernia surgery, said during the pre-match press conference here.
"But it's a valid point and let's see we will have a team meeting today and whatever instruction we get or whatever is the best option we will do. It all depends on the team doctor and what advice he gives us," he added.
Amid the ever-rising danger of the Coronavirus outbreak with more than 40 positive cases in the country, Bhuvneshwar said they are taking every possible precaution in these difficult times.
He, however, refused to speculate on whether the upcoming Indian Premier League will be disrupted by the deadly disease.
"You cannot say anything right now because it's taking a dangerous situation in India. But we are taking every precaution we can take. We have a team doctor with us and he is giving us instructions about dos and don'ts. So we hope it won't go (spread) much further, he said.
Just like other teams, Indian players have also been advised to stay away from fans.
"Few dos and don'ts which the team doctor wants us to do. Simple things like maintaining hygiene, keep washing your hands regularly and not going closer to fans and all those things.
"But we cannot avoid fans because they love us, they support us. In the meantime, we can try and not get too much closer to them. We can avoid as much as we can," he added.
South Africa coach Mark Boucher had said that the Proteas could avoid the customary handshakes during their stay in India in the wake of the outbreak.
Despite the Covid19 wreaking havoc worldwide, South Africa went ahead with the tour only after their medical and security team gave a go-ahead after doing a risk assessment.
The second match of the series will be played in Lucknow on March 15 and Kolkata on March 18.
For Bhuvi, all international matches important even in T20 WC year
Bhuvneshwar differed with his skipper Virat Kohli on the significance of ODIs in a Twenty20 World Cup year, saying that all international matches are important and another bad series will be confidence-denting.
After the 0-3 drubbing in New Zealand recently last month, Kohli had said that ODIs hardly have any significance in a calendar year that features a Twenty20 World Cup.
"International matches are important. We just lost a series in New Zealand and you all are aware of the reactions after that. Our aim is to win the series because if we don't do well, an individual's confidence also gets affected," Bhuvneshwar said.
Bhuvneshwar believes that a good outing in the series will be a confidence-booster for players going into the upcoming Indian Premier League that starts on March 29.
"T20 is a different thing but if we do well here, we will have confidence going into the IPL which is necessary."
After missing the tour of New Zealand, Bhuvneshwar is making a comeback to the team following a successful sports hernia surgery last year.
And the 31-year-old was candid enough to admit that making a comeback is not easy for fast bowlers.
"It's difficult to maintain pace when you are returning from an injury because it always plays on the mind that if you strive for pace then the injury might reoccur. The best option is such a case is to play matches as much as possible to gain confidence that you are fit," Bhuvneshwar said.
Insisting that it is good to have backup bowlers in the event of an injury, Bhuvneshwar said healthy competition is always a good sign for any team.
"If we look from the team's perspective, if a bowler is injured and there are 2-3 bowlers to replace him, you know there is healthy competition," he said.
"So, it's a positive point because then you will be making your comeback with a positive mindset. You will prepare for the competition. So, it's good for the team as well as for an individual."
With rain predicted on Thursday, Bhuvneshwar also hinted that India would prefer to bowl first if they win the toss.
"Generally it's a good batting wicket. The dew also plays a role in the evening then it gets difficult for a bowler. In high altitude grounds, the ball also travels faster."
Talking about his rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy (NCA), Bhuvneshwar said he never wanted to return to the team half fit and without playing any practice matches.
"When I started after the surgery, I started slowly. After one week I started different exercises related to bowling and then when I felt I am fit, I started bowling at the nets and played matches," he said.
"...I didn't want to return without playing a practice match."
It was an optional practice session for India on Wednesday which skipper Kohli and all-rounder Hardik Pandya skipped.
Pandya is returning to the side after a six-month injury lay-off. He suffered a back injury during last year's ODI World Cup that required a surgery.