T20 World Cup: Hail Bumrah ‘the genius’ as India survive a show of character

A six-run win over arch rivals Pakistan will seem more satisfying for Men in Blue than ever

Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Mohammad Rizwan in New York on 9 June (photo: PTI)
Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Mohammad Rizwan in New York on 9 June (photo: PTI)

Gautam Bhattacharyya

The record books will say that India improved their head-to-head record against Pakistan to 7-1 in the T20 World Cup or they just defended the joint lowest-ever total in the history of this tournament. But then, that’s only half the story.

The crux lies in the four overs of sheer torment that Jasprit Bumrah wreaked on the rival batters - with able supporting roles from the much-maligned Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant showing what India had been missing over the past one-and-a-half years. No wonder, captain Rohit Sharma called his Mumbai Indians teammate a ‘a genius’ with the ball in hand later.

A six-run win and full points from both their games meant India have a foot in the Super Eight, while former champions and 2022 runners-up Pakistan will rue their capitulation with the bat after being at a stage when they needed 40 runs from 36 balls with seven wickets in hand. The win, incidentally, will be sweeter for the Men in Blue for it tested their character on a brutal Nassau County wicket despite it looking a bit more settled than their Ireland game while the festive atmosphere at the ground – with adequate presence of Pakistan supporters too – appeared somewhat less jingoistic than their previous clash in Ahmedabad.   

The two victories in New York had been so different in tenor from the kind the Indian fans expect with batting firepower from their stroke makers – but would be far more satisfying after some of the mindless run fests in the last IPL. Just ponder this: India were also 89 for three at one stage despite losing both their stalwarts Rohit and Virat Kohli inside the powerplay while their middle order batters had no answer to deliveries on the back of a length from the Pakistan pace attack who had their tails up.    

The TV pundits like legendary Sunil Gavaskar panned the batting and despite the frailty of Pakistan's top order, a target of 120 looked par for the course for Babar Azam & Co. It was only Pant’s unorthodox methods which made him successful as he scratched around to make 42 off 31 deliveries at a strike rate of 135. It was worth its wait in gold though as the rest of the batters managed 70 off 84 at a strike rate of 83.

No doubt India were short by around 20 runs or so, but their biggest plus was that they had a Bumrah. A measure of the kind of influence he wielded on the match was apparent in the fact that Bumrah not only picked up the best rival batters Babar, Rizwan and final hope Iftikhar Ahmed in the 19th over, but as many as 15 of his 24 deliveries were dot balls.   

There are perhaps no prizes for guessing who is the most feared bowler in world cricket today – across all formats. In an interview with ICC on the eve of the tournament, Bumrah said he wanted to enjoy the game rather than focus on the results after coming back from the career-threatening injury last year but as figures show, he had become only more lethal in the past year.  

Take the delivery which knocked the stumps of dangerman Rizwan. He was made to believe that a full-length ball was there to play a shot across the line and his stumps paid the price. It was the opening India needed and despite the small target and despite the presence of a few experienced campaigners like Imad Wasim or Iftikhar in the lower order, Pakistan always looked in danger of falling a bit short.

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