India’s trio of pacers, Jasprit Bumrah, Ashish Nehra and Hardik Pandya have kept India’s bowling attack in good stead through the Asia Cup. With his ability to bowl yorkers at will, Bumrah kept the pressure on the opposition right into the final against Bangladesh on Sunday.
The latter two, though, had a below-par showing in the final. Nehra, who was playing his first final since the comeback and Pandya, playing in his first ever final for India, did not quite live up to their billing.
Even as a young Bumrah delivered, these two were sent to the cleaners by Bangladesh’s batsmen. Nehra scalped a wicket, but conceded 33 in his three overs. Pandya couldn’t take a wicket, and leaked 35 runs in his three overs.
Interestingly, Nehra had impressed while playing against Bangladesh in the opening tie of the Asia Cup. He had then scalped three wickets on the night. In the same game, Pandya contributed with both bat and ball, scoring a vital 31 before returning with the ball to scalp a crucial wicket to destabilise the opposition’s chase.
While off days are a part of cricket, consistency is a hard trait to have, especially in T20. For Pandya, his inexperienced showed. Pushed on the big stage, he could not produce the same intensity that has made him so vital in India’s playing eleven.
In Nehra’s case, it would appear his voodoo of the final has once again left him behind. Since missing out on playing in the semi-final of the 2011 ICC World Cup, the Asia Cup was the Delhi bowler’s first major final at the international stage.
Asked to lead the attack alongside spinner Ravichandran Ashwin, Nehra could not quite find his rhythm. He did get India its first breakthrough, but that was more a case of batsman’s error while hitting than the bowler’s trap succeeding.
Nehra and, late in the innings, Pandya were taken to the cleaners, with Bangladesh’s Mahmmadullah and Sabbir Rahman connecting the big shots.
With Mohammed Shami likely to return in time for the warm-up games before the World T20, the onus will be on Nehra, Pandya and Bumrah to prove their worthiness. All three have been on the mark so far. Bumrah’s Yorkers have been much documented now.
Pandya ,too, with his all-round performances makes a point for his inclusion in the side. The only way Shami finds a place in the eleven is to replace Nehra or Bumrah. The latter has been on top-form and is unlikely to be asked to make way.
Speaking after the game, skipper MS Dhoni underplayed Nehra’s role in the side. He felt that the 36-year-old had done enough to warrant respect and a place in the eleven.
Dhoni had similar praise for Pandya, but hinted that his all-round skills were too vital to have him on the sidelines.
While bowlers might not quite be under immediate pressure on the basis of one performance, they would do well to not repeat any mistakes in the coming days, when a waiting Shami returns and seeks a place in the playing eleven.