T20 World Cup: Bumrah 2.0: Probing, precise and petrifying

The Indian pace ace has reinvented himself after coming back from injury.
Last Updated : 07 June 2024, 14:26 IST
Last Updated : 07 June 2024, 14:26 IST

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New York: On October 3, 2022, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) shot out a press release. 

It read: “The BCCI Medical team has ruled out Team India fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah from the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup squad. The decision was taken following a detailed assessment and in consultation with the specialists. Bumrah was initially ruled out from the ongoing 3-match T20I series against South Africa due to a back injury.”

India advanced to the knockout stage that year, but their bowlers came up short against England in the semifinals. If it wasn’t already clear that Bumrah’s presence was inextricably linked to the team’s improved chance of success, it was now. 

Naturally, Bumrah’s bad back assumed national significance. The management dodged queries about the same long enough before the paceman returned in August last year as captain on India’s tour of Ireland. 

Scratchy as he was in the first couple of games, he was still effective. But no one thought he would be as good as he has been since those two feelers against Ireland nearly a year ago. 

Since then, he has featured in the Asia Cup, a two-match Test series in South Africa, the 50-over World Cup at home, the five-match Test series against England at home and in the Indian Premier League for the Mumbai Indians before boarding the ship to America for the tournament he missed out on in 2022. 

After four wickets in two games in Ireland, he bagged five in three games at the Asia Cup. 

He wreaked havoc in Centurion and Cape Town with 12 wickets in two Tests. 

The English found him impossible to tackle when he did get the chance to bowl in the four Tests he was available for, picking up 19 wickets despite skipping the Ranchi Test.  

At the World Cup, he finished with 20 wickets in 11 games at an eerie average of 4.06, an average of 18.65 and a strike rate of 27.5. 

But, Bumrah peaked at the IPL where he finished the 13 games with 20 wickets at an economy of 6.48, an average of 16.80 and a strike rate of 15.55. 

Basically, Bumrah conceded 336 runs from the 311 deliveries he sent down for Mumbai in a tournament which saw all sorts of run-scoring records hitting the bottom of the bin. 

That, arguably, is one of the greatest bowling performances in the IPL. Maybe not in terms of wickets taken or best in an innings and so on, but for sheer impact, you needn’t look beyond Bumrah. 

With that form in tow, Bumrah came to the Big Apple to strut his stuff. So, when the pitch at the Nassau County Cricket stadium showed signs of being tetchy when Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Siraj were in action, Bumrah must have wanted in on the bite. 

He came on in the sixth over and nearly got Harry Tector off his very first ball. That delivery set the scene for what was to follow for the next five balls. Tector was clueless. Bumrah spent all his time with a smile. It was a maiden. 

Bumrah’s next over yielded four runs, but that delivery which dismissed Tector is exactly why no one wants to mess with the pacer, least of all on a pitch like that. 

The ball rose awkwardly from short to a length, clipped Tector’s glove, slammed into his helmet for good measure and then lobbed to Virat Kohli. Tector was in all sorts of pain. Bumrah gently embraced his colleagues. 

Rohit took Bumrah off after a couple of overs, but when the skipper reckoned more runs than necessary were being conceded, he brought him back on in the 15th over. Bumrah got Josh Little with the perfect yorker off the second delivery. He had conceded six runs, but four of those went to the team because they came off Little’s pads and snaked past a diving Pant. 

Essentially, Bumrah had conceded six runs for two wickets in three overs. That spell - in a day and age where batters put the fear of employment in bowlers - defies logic, much like everything else Bumrah defies. 

Reducing him to a hyperextending elbow is of disservice to the pure amalgamation of a physiological gift and a psychological prowess that Bumrah is. See, he will go gown as one of the greatest bowlers of all time across formats, but to not garland his genius with an ICC Trophy would be cruel. That, however, will require his comrades to come good. 

As for Bumrah itself, he doesn’t bother much with the condition of the pitches or the quality of his opponents. After all, he’s acing chess while they’re twiddling thumbs at checkers. 

Published 07 June 2024, 14:26 IST

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