Miracle man Jasprit Bumrah breaks Pakistan through dot balls and desperation to make the impossible possible | Crickit
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Miracle man Jasprit Bumrah breaks Pakistan through dot balls and desperation to make the impossible possible

Jun 10, 2024 08:46 AM IST

He's done it again. Jasprit Bumrah masterminded yet another heist for India against Pakistan at the T20 World Cup.

"When it’s bat versus bat, I switch off the TV," Jasprit Bumrah smiled cheekily, delighting in the fact that a country that reserves its adulation is beginning to celebrate its bowling unit too.

India in trouble? Call Jasprit Bumrah(AP)
India in trouble? Call Jasprit Bumrah(AP)

Not for the first time in this T20 World Cup, India’s bowling spearhead showcased the luminescence of his ability. Last week against Ireland, on a surface that offered him loads of assistance, he turned in an exceptional burst of two for six from three superb overs. That was under not so much pressure; India were bowling first, there was considerable help as the ball jagged around and the bounce was occasionally dangerously unpredictable.

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On Sunday, it was an entirely different story. India had only 119 to defend at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium, against the team they love to conquer in global tournaments. 119 wasn’t as trifling as it might sound, but it wasn’t a huge score either by any stretch of the imagination. The morning clouds that had spurred Pakistan’s high-class fast-bowling attack had been shattered by a sun resplendent in all its glory, the seam movement less pronounced. India had a job on their hands if they entertained hopes of making it seven wins in eight outings against Pakistan in T20 World Cups.

The team looked to Bumrah to mastermind their heist. True, he couldn’t do it alone because there is only so much one man can do in four overs. This needed to be a collective effort from the entire group, but the leader had to set the tone for the rest to sail in his slipstream.

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If there’s one thing Bumrah has seldom done in his eight and a half years in international cricket, it is to disappoint. Why should it be any different this time, despite the stage being so humongous and the stakes so indescribably high?

No seam, no problem. No uneven bounce, no issues. Bumrah decided there would be no panic, no desperation. Build pressure, stack up dot balls, get Pakistan’s edgy batters to try something outrageous. In hindsight, and far removed from the stresses of battle, it might be easy to blame Pakistan’s batters for not being able to score at six an over, but reality is so far removed from such wishful thinking.

Also Read: Jasprit Bumrah holds key to unlocking India's T20 World Cup fortune

Bumrah left no one in any doubt about who the master was. Against Ireland, the challenge was to not get carried away by the juice in the strip; on Sunday, it was to desist from overreaching, from trying to bowl fuller in the quest for wickets and conceding runs, to keep the pressure up and keep the batting honest. He ticked every box, picking up a second straight Player of the Match award for figures of three for 14 from four outstanding overs.

How Jasprit Bumrah mastermind India's heist

The big fish are his most coveted targets, and Bumrah accounted for Pakistan’s two most experienced batters, skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan. Babar had just pulled him over mid-wicket for a rare boundary when Bumrah brought one back in; indecisive and shaping to leave the ball, all he managed was a waft expertly pouched low in front at slip by Suryakumar Yadav. It was an important early strike, 26 on the board.

Bumrah’s second and third spells, certain to be one over each, were going to be crucial. Pakistan were on target, 80 for three, when Rohit Sharma brought his lynchpin back for the 15th over. With his first ball, Bumrah forced Rizwan into an agricultural hoick, the inward tilt allied with the fact that the ball stayed down a touch disturbing the furniture. That’s when the game took a decisive turn, even though 40 were needed off 29. Bumrah only went for three runs. Absolute gold dust.

He wouldn’t be back until the 19th, it was clear; in the three interim overs, Axar Patel, Hardik Pandya and Mohammed Siraj bowled expertly, leaving Pakistan needing 21 off the last two overs. It was make or break time; Bumrah made the match for India, broke it for their great rivals, giving away just three runs – including a leg bye – and packing off Iftikhar Ahmed off the last ball of his spell. He left Arshdeep Singh to defend 18 off the last over. In a match where the run rate didn’t climb above six, to score thrice as many, even if only in six deliveries, was beyond impossible.

Bumrah has set himself, and India, up nicely for the assignments ahead, especially in the Caribbean which will host the Super Eights and the knockouts. He isn’t the kind to rest on his laurels, so one suspects he isn’t done with the demolition job yet. Not by a long way.

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