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regular-article-logo Wednesday, 19 June 2024

India vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup: An ice-cool brain fired up, Jasprit Bumrah deadlier

The fast bowler’s ‘temple point celebration’ against Pakistan during the ODI World Cup in Ahmedabad last year had gone viral leaving him amused since he’s usually 'too tired to celebrate'

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 11.06.24, 09:54 AM
Jasprit Bumrah bowls a delivery at Pakistan in New York on Sunday.

Jasprit Bumrah bowls a delivery at Pakistan in New York on Sunday. AP/PTI

Clenched fist, eyes protruding, Jasprit Bumrah’s rapturous celebration at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in New York on Sunday was slightly atypical of the man who is known to portray a cool demeanour and not exhibit his emotions on the field.

In his own silent way, he has accentuated his understanding of the game when exploiting a batter’s weakness. The fast bowler’s ‘temple point celebration’ against Pakistan during the ODI World Cup in Ahmedabad last year had gone viral leaving him amused since he’s usually “too tired to celebrate”.

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The occasion certainly didn’t invite the same intensity as in October last, but the context always makes even the best vulnerable to the unpredictability of the game. Having to defend 119 on a tricky wicket was never easy, Pakistan’s appalling record against India in World Cups notwithstanding.

The chase was run-a-ball for Pakistan and it needed a sublime show of craft and conviction to stop them. Virat Kohli’s mastery had made it possible at the Melbourne Cricket Ground two years ago and this time an incisive and controlled spell was needed from the bowlers.

Pakistan openers looked in their elements as Rohit Sharma held Bumrah back and trusted Arshdeep Singh and Mohammed Siraj with the new ball hoping for early seam and swing. It wasn’t until his second over that Bumrah found the breakthrough to cause chaos in the batting order.

A Team India supporter in the stands holds up a cheeky poster during the match against Pakistan at the Nassau County International Stadium in New York on Sunday, in a picture shared on X 

A Team India supporter in the stands holds up a cheeky poster during the match against Pakistan at the Nassau County International Stadium in New York on Sunday, in a picture shared on X  X

The match though wasn’t won till the 16th over. An excellent angled delivery with enough seam movement had fetched him his first wicket — Babar Azam — and the
circumstances were enough to motivate Bumrah to live in
the moment.

Mohammad Rizwan was threatening to anchor the chase and with 31 off 44
balls had shown enough composure to put it beyond India. But Bumrah is the thinking sort who always looks to find frailties in a batter. He had noticed Rizwan’s penchant for horizontal shots while leaving a gap between his body and bat.

The first delivery of the 16th over was angled into the stumps and swung across the line. The opener attempted to play a cross-batted shot without realising that the ball was pitched fuller and a tad low. A downcast Rizwan dragged himself out of the ground, his stumps shattered, as Bumrah whizzed around in a show of aggression and exhilaration.

Pakistan still needed 40 runs at that stage but India sensed a chance. Rizwan is often considered Pakistan’s best bet in chasing targets and as India upped the intensity, Pakistani nerves cracked. The run-rate soared once India tightened the noose around the batters.

Shadab Khan’s top edge was grabbed by Rishabh Pant a little later as India pushed it into the death overs. This Pakistan team lacked the skill to come out trumps in that mental warfare. Bumrah returned in the 19th over to remove Iftikhar Ahmed with a full toss, Arshdeep averting a collision and grabbing a high catch. Only 3 runs came off it.

Pakistan didn’t have it in them to knock off 18 in the last over off Arshdeep. “Bumrah is going from strength to strength. We want him to be in that kind of mindset till the end of the World Cup. He’s a genius with the ball,” skipper Rohit summed it up well.

Bumrah has his priorities clear. “I am bowling to the best of my ability. I try to solve the problem that is there in front of me and try to control the controllables,” said Bumrah.

“How do I make shot-making difficult? What are the best options for me? So that way, I try to stay in the present and focus on what I have to do. Because if I look at the outside noise, if I look at people and pressure and emotions take over, then things don’t really work for me.

“We had to be more consistent and more accurate and we as a unit were very calm and very clear on what we wanted to do,” said Bumrah. “The message in the huddle was that... what next? What are the things that are in our control? So, we will try to focus on that and not create panic...”

For most of last year, Bumrah had been laid low by a career-threatening back injury but has since made a point, silencing those who had doubted his skills. There can be no debate over his commitment towards the team or making it count in a high-stakes contest.

Just like Kohli’s 82 not out in Melbourne, Bumrah 3/14 will also be remembered for long. His penetrating spell had shaped the game’s outcome.

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