Jasprit Bumrah stands alone at the top of heap

The Indian pace bowling spearhead's economy rate at this World Cup was the best for anyone who has bowled 100-plus balls in a single edition of the T20 World Cup.
Last Updated : 01 July 2024, 15:05 IST

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Barbados: This was a World Cup for the bowlers. Along came Jasprit Bumrah.

Hardly a month ago, the world showered him with praise for being the most economical bowler in the Indian Premier League, giving away 6.48 runs for 20 wickets from 13 games. Never mind that it came in a lost cause for the Mumbai Indians. 

This was one of the most impressive bowling displays by a pacer in a franchise-league of this span, of this magnitude, ever. Mind you, everyone else of his ilk didn’t even want to bowl in this edition of the tournament because of how inhospitable those flat tracks in India were for bowlers all. 

He, meanwhile, ambled in, as he does. Cranked up, as he does. Sent down one cracker after another, as he always has, to give away 336 runs from the 311 deliveries. 

Most bowlers wouldn’t be able to do that in Test matches, let alone white-ball cricket, because of how these batters are built these days.  

Bumrah is the anomaly, in physiology so in execution, for he infests the minds of batters; and assures the audience that the batters will not do anything to him, his art, or his ability. 

They, the batters, typically don’t even try. Fear is all you see from 22 yards away and when he’s coming around with that whiplash for a righthand. 

He is the first bowler in the sport's history to command this level of respect from these new-age sluggers, reckless willow-wielders, and mercenaries without mercy across three formats. There is no room for argument here.

But if you thought the IPL was the main course, he arrived at the World Cup in the Americas. 

Locked and loaded, the man was a walking death trap. 

He picked up 15 wickets from 178 deliveries at an economy of 4.17, a strike rate of 11.8 and an average of 8.26. 

These are actual numbers from a bowler who has bowled at five World Cup venues over the last month, against some of the toughest oppositions, and not always in conditions which were favourable to him. 

Bumrah is (insert ‘arguably’ here to avoid sweeping statements) the most impactful bowler the world has ever seen.

Had the danger of losing your head because of those long-limbed West Indians or the threat of amputation to your toes because of those nasty Pakistanis not existed, Bumrah will have been the most feared bowler of all time. 

He still is in a sense because he sucks out the joy of batting. If that intangible factor is accounted for, you’d have to give Bumrah a sash with giant lettering, reading ’GOAT’. 

That sounds like a bold claim to make because he has only played 36 Tests, 89 One-Day Internationals and 70 Twenty20 Internationals for 159, 149 and 89 wickets respectively, and his economy stands at 2.74, 4.59 and 6.27, an average of 20.69, 23.55 and 17.74 and a strike rate of 45.1, 30.7 and 16.9. 

Still not impressed? 

Okay, here: he gave away 12 boundaries in eight matches in a T20 World Cup, involving some of the best big hitters this world has seen.   

The first three matches were played in rather favourable conditions at Long Island so let's ignore those, but Bumrah should not have done what he did through the Caribbean. 

The introduction of left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav to the playing XI in place of pacer Mohammed Siraj was emblematic of what the management thought of the conditions. 

And yet, Bumrah's economy rate at this World Cup was the best for anyone who has bowled 100-plus balls in a single edition of the T20 World Cup. The most Bumrah conceded was 29 runs against Australia. But, Bumrah isn’t in the numbers. 

That slower ball to dismiss Travis Head against Australia in the Super Eights.

That magic slower ball to hammer Phil Salt’s leg-stump. 

That length ball which angled in and shaped away off the seam to hammer the off stump to leave South Africa’s Reeza Hendricks in a puddle of confusion in the final.  

None of these deliveries, however brilliant, mattered as much as the final two overs he bowled in his second spell on that hot and heavy day at the Kensington Oval, though.  

Having gone for an ‘unnatural’ 12 runs from two overs with a wicket, Bumrah was brought back in the 15th over with South Africa needing an easy 30 runs from 30 balls. 

Obviously skipper Rohit Sharma would go to him. This was make-or-break time.  

Bumrah gave away four runs, altering the equation to 26 from 24. Still not great in the context of things, but Bumrah had six more deliveries left. He was brought back for the 18th over. India were 22 from 18 balls at this point.  

Besides dismissing Marco Jansen with a corker, you knew this dismissal was coming, he conceded two runs in the over. 

This performance of his might never be viewed at his best. One, because the man has his fair share of inexplicable spells in this format and beyond. Two, because, in the large scheme of things, India won a World Cup so every individual moment can take the backseat. 

But, this tournament, actually these 24 deliveries, had his essence in them, and they could well have played the most important role in India’s first ICC trophy in eleven years. 

This is why Indian cricket missed him when he was recovering from a stress fracture for over six months. This is why the team looked out of sorts without him and kept trying alternative options to plug an unpluggable void. This is why a nation craved Mr Right-Arm Absurd.  

This is freak unleashed. This is once-in-a-generation stuff.

Published 01 July 2024, 15:05 IST

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