File image of Shoaib Akhtar(Yogen Shah)
File image of Shoaib Akhtar(Yogen Shah)

‘Class apart’: Shoaib Akhtar picks India’s ‘X-factor’ after series sweep

Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur too responded from the other end and once again, the hosts surrendered a dominant performance and ceded the match to India.
By HT Correspondent | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 09:24 AM IST

KL Rahul, who was captaining India in the absence of the injured Rohit Sharma, gave the ball to Shivam Dube for the 10th over. Tim Seifert and Ross Taylor, who had sussed the conditions by then, decided to go after him and eventually, the over was plundered for 34 runs. New Zealand were back in the ascendancy and India were under the pump. This is when Rahul turned to Bumrah and Bumrah turned the match around. He gave 6 runs in the 12th over and slowly, India started applying pressure again. This took a toll as Tim Seifert was dismissed and from 116/3, New Zealand slipped to 133/8 in just 4.3 overs.

Bumrah was the star once again as he bowled accurate yorkers to get rid of Daryl Mitchell and then repeated the dose when he knocked over Tim Southee. Navdeep Saini and Shardul Thakur too responded from the other end and once again, the hosts surrendered a dominant performance and ceded the match to India.

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Bumrah’s exploits was the main reason why the match changed and as per former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar, the fast bowler is India’s biggest X-factor.

“Bumrah is a class act. It took him 2-3 matches to come back to full rhythm. Some bowlers take their time when they come out from injuries. He took a couple of series but today he looked a class apart. 3 for 12 was just superb. Bumrah won’t let you score 25-30 runs in the death overs. Saini and Shardul were good too but I think Bumrah is the X-factor of the Indian side,” Akhtar said on his Youtube channel.

For his game-changing spell of 4-1-12-3, he was adjudged man of the match. “The match got close at one, point but we had belief, that we could squeeze in a couple of tight overs. First time in New Zealand, different ground dimensions, great result,” he said at the post-match press conference.

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