Forget Purple Cap and 5/21, how did Dinesh Karthik hit me for a six? Presenting Jasprit Bumrah the marvel | Crickit
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Forget Purple Cap and 5/21, how did Dinesh Karthik hit me for a six? Presenting Jasprit Bumrah the marvel

Apr 12, 2024 03:39 PM IST

Bumrah teased RCB. He tormented them. He bowled the ball into the pitch. He took pace off. He took the surface out of the equation and zoned in on the toes.

This was billed as a marquee clash between two high-profile teams, even if they were propping up the table. They occupy opposite ends of the success spectrum in the IPL – one with five titles, the other having made just three abortive appearances in the final – but like always, sparks were expected to fly when Mumbai Indians ran into Royal Challengers Bengaluru.

Mumbai Indians' Jasprit Bumrah in action against Royal Challengers Bengaluru in IPL 2024(PTI)
Mumbai Indians' Jasprit Bumrah in action against Royal Challengers Bengaluru in IPL 2024(PTI)

They did. Oh, did they! But there was not even a semblance of a contest, not after arguably the best all-format pacer in world cricket at the moment got down to business.

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Yes, Dinesh Karthik reiterated how comfortable he is in the skin of a finisher with a furious late onslaught that gave the visitors some hope at the Wankhede on Thursday night. Yes, Ishan Kishan threw down the gauntlet with a blistering half-century during a frenetic hundred-plus opening stand alongside Rohit Sharma, becalmed only in comparison. Yes, Suryakumar Yadav showed he ‘still got it’ with an innings for the ages in just his second knock in four months. Yes, Hardik Pandya turned boos into cheers with a final flourish that got his team over the line. By seven wickets with 27 deliveries to spare, while chasing 197. Mayhem, you say? Absolutely correct.

Long before Pandya nonchalantly smashed Akash Deep deep into the stands behind cover, the mayhem had been triggered by one of the modern-day legends. Jasprit Bumrah is affable, soft-spoken, excited merely to be on the cricket field. He sports a ready smile, twitching and fiddling to release humongous nervous energy, but toss him the ball, and there is no one calmer, no one more in control, no one deadlier.

Pandya hasn’t always been ready to use his battering ram at the top of the innings, but this occasion compelled an early initiation to the bowling crease. For, there loomed, Virat Kohli, the holder of the Orange Cap, the only consistent batter in the opposition ranks, the man who could take the game away or allow the stroke-makers to flourish around him. An early Kohli departure would mean so much to both teams, so Pandya brought Bumrah on in the third over. Moment of reckoning.

The capacity crowd huddled in silence, their loyalties divided. One of the greatest batters the country has produced, against a champion bowler who is often referred to as a ‘freak’ and who does freak things. Which way would the pendulum swing?

Kohli sought to make the early play, charging Bumrah’s first ball but mistiming a clatter to mid-wicket. The second came back sharply and struck him on his pad – a decade back, Bumrah had dismissed Kohli with a similar delivery for his first IPL scalp – to elicit a token appeal, but no more, as the bowler whirled around and walked to the top of his mark. Kohli was chomping at the bit, Bumrah looked calm and relaxed. Was this a clash of champs, or a battle of egos?

Ball three, Kohli on the charge again to a length ball delivered from wide of the crease and angling into the right-hander. The swipe to mid-wicket was optimistic, desperate – the shot of a man on 3 off 8, not someone who came into the game with 316 runs from five innings – and eventually fatal, the inside-edge gobbled up with alacrity by Kishan behind the stumps, diving to his left. Bumrah had drawn first blood, dismissed Kohli for a fifth time in 15 IPL innings, put the rest on notice.

The rest didn’t stand up. More like, couldn’t. Bumrah teased them, he tormented them. He bowled the ball into the pitch. He splayed his fingers and took pace off. He took the surface out of the equation and zoned in on the toes – ask Mahipal Lomror, pinged in front as injury and insult came in a heap. This was a master at work, a master in complete control of his craft, a master who went at 5.25 an over in a match where the average run rate was 11.19. His five wickets came at different stages of the innings, with different deliveries, against batters of different calibre.

If Bumrah had to ‘settle’ for five for 21, it was because Karthik slammed the last ball of his spell over cover for six – only the second six in 120 deliveries he has conceded this season. Perhaps more than his five wickets, Faf du Plessis included, it was that stroke which occupied his headspace as he picked up the Player of the Match award. ‘Never mind the Purple Cap, never mind all the destruction, how did I get whacked for six?’ he appeared to wonder. No wonder, then, that Jasprit Bumrah is what he is.

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