Sunrisers Hyderabad seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar says playing in the high-pressure Indian Premier League (IPL) environment has made him a better strike bowler.
Kumar, 28, is playing in his fifth season for Sunrisers and was one of only two players retained by the franchise this season after finishing as the leading wicket-taker in the 2016 and 2017 tournaments.
The India bowler said going through the relentless schedule of the two-month IPL tournament every year and the increased responsibility on his shoulders as a wicket-taking option at Sunrisers had made him a stronger bowler.
"The IPL has helped improve me as a bowler, especially in the death overs," Kumar was quoted as saying by International Cricket Council's official website.
"It's a short format, but a long season and two months is never easy to play. If we've to survive those two months, if you've to win the tournament, you've to do well – as a strike bowler, I really had to do well to ensure matches are won.
"Those responsibilities, that need to do well regularly in a long season, those are the things that improved me as a bowler, and the team as well."
Kumar added that he was feeling at the peak of his physical powers and his improved pace when bowling was a reflection of that.
"I've always been able to swing it both ways," Kumar said. "But I always wanted to add that pace, and I didn't know how to. I worked with the trainers and the physios and what I've learned is that it comes naturally with age and maturity.
"The pace I have now [is because] I am at the peak of my physical attributes right now. Everything comes from that physical maturity, it improved the pace a bit."
Kumar went on to discuss David Warner's absence from the IPL this year due to his involvement in a ball-tampering scandal and insisted that Sunrisers could cope with the absence of the Australia opener.
"Whoever is playing, they're good players – that's why they are playing," he said. "They have done so well for other franchises, and that's why Sunrisers picked them.
"So yes, it's all about accepting things happened and moving on. You cannot replace a batsman like Warner, but we have other batsmen who can do well in this format as well."