Ahead of India’s three-match Twenty20 International series against Australia, the selectors and team management included youngsters Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya in the squad.
This was less than a month ago. On Saturday, as they took on Pakistan, the 22-year-olds faced their toughest test, performing under pressure in the biggest game of their career.
The stakes were high and the young duo came to the fore. With Ashish Nehra the only experienced pacer in the side, it was up to Bumrah and Pandya on a wicket that had a lot of grass on it.
Many dot balls
Bumrah bowled three overs and conceded just eight runs. Of the 18 deliveries he bowled, 16 were dot balls. He picked up a wicket for an impressive showing in his first India-Pakistan game.
Pandya too conceded just eight runs, but was the most successful India bowler with three wickets.
Both returned an economy rate of less than three, but more importantly helped India restrict Pakistan to 83, which was crucial considering the opposition had in their ranks four pacers.
India’s nervous batting display only highlighted their performance. Had it not been for the bowlers’ efforts, a higher target would have left them in an embarrassing position.
“It was my first India-Pakistan game, so I was really excited but tried to treat it as a normal game,” said Bumrah during the innings break. “You feel less pressure and concentrate on the execution. We were focusing on the match,” he added.
In the context of the World T20, the duo’s performance is crucial. After their debut in Australia, both have lived up to expectations and delivered when called upon.
While Bumrah has fitted in seamlessly in the pace attack, Pandya has been a revelation as a seaming all-rounder who can strike the ball hard from the start.
On more than one occasion, Bumrah has been asked to bowl in the death, while Pandya has been moved up the batting order quite a few times. Both have played their parts perfectly so far.
On Saturday, the requirement was different. A green wicket meant ace spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took a backseat and it was the pacers who needed to be at the forefront. Both Bumrah and Pandya combined well and seemed to follow a plan.
Their lack of experience was a worry, but the mature performance against Pakistan will go a long way in quelling reservations.