T20 World Cup: How Bumrah, Kuldeep are proving to be the gamechangers | Crickit
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T20 World Cup: How Bumrah, Kuldeep are proving to be the gamechangers

ByAshish Magotra
Jun 25, 2024 08:02 PM IST

Bumrah's mastery in T20 bowling and Kuldeep's variations have been key for India in the T20 World Cup, making them a formidable force to reckon with.

New Delhi: You think T20 cricket. You think sixes. You think heavy bats. You think of batters with a license to bash. You think of bowling machines (for that is what bowlers are usually).

Antigua, Jun 22 (ANI): India's Kuldeep Yadav and teammates celebrate a dismissal during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Bangladesh in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Saturday. (ANI Photo) (BCCI- X)
Antigua, Jun 22 (ANI): India's Kuldeep Yadav and teammates celebrate a dismissal during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Bangladesh in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024, at Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua on Saturday. (ANI Photo) (BCCI- X)

But then put all that together and think about it as a captain. What is it that you need to win matches? One, you need batters ready to play the game the way it needs to be played. Two, you need players who buck the trend, go against the grain; players who will be your difference makers.

And that is what pacer Jasprit Bumrah and left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav are proving to be for India. Of Bumrah, there was never any doubt. He runs in and makes his play day after day, game after game, delivery after delivery, in every format, rarely if ever taking a false step. Oppositions, the ones that are smart at least, simply look to get through his overs without taking too much damage.

Bumrah’s bowling figures through the tournament have reflected how he has attained a rare mastery in the most difficult of arts - bowling economically in a T20 game. His economy of 4.08 in the 2024 T20 World Cup shows how he has been almost unplayable.

But coming into the tournament, the big question for India was who other than Bumrah. The pacer’s class isn’t a secret, but if the rest of the bowlers didn’t raise their game, India could suffer.

The conditions played into India’s hands during the USA leg of the tournament with pacers getting plenty of assistance from the pitch and the conditions. But the real tournament would only begin in the Caribbean, on pitches that would be slower and better for batting. In other words, not ideal for pace bowlers.

The switch that the conditions demanded was not lost on the Indian team management. Out went Mohammed Siraj and in came Kuldeep Yadav. The spinner had been on drinks duty in the USA, but now he was being asked to assume the lead role.

Kuldeep wasn’t frazzled in the least, rather he relished the opportunity to shine. He has snared seven wickets in the three matches and done so at an economy rate of just 6.25.

More importantly, many opponents could make up their mind and play out Bumrah while trying to make up for it elsewhere, but with Kuldeep’s variations clicking, the pressure is ramped up in the best way possible for India.

This was clear in the game, against Australia, on a good batting wicket in St Lucia on Monday. Travis Head gave them a rollicking start and at the end of the Powerplay, the Aussies had reached 65/1 – keeping the required run-rate well within reach.

That is when Kuldeep was introduced into the attack. The last four overs before his introduction into the attack had gone for 14, 14, 12 and 17 runs respectively. But the spinner put the brakes on the Australian innings right away with a four-run over.

Hardik’s next over, the eighth of the innings, was carted for another 14 runs. But then, with a serious wind blowing across the ground, Kuldeep produced another tight over. The first five balls saw just four runs scored and then, off the last, Australian skipper Mitch Marsh felt the need to go for the release shot.

He got the ball too - a nice long hop -- but such is the skill of wrist spinners that there is always a little extra on the ball. Marsh’s pull was flatter than he wanted it to be and Axar Patel, at deep square leg, took an absolute blinder. The wicket should belong to Axar, but the pressure built up by Kuldeep played a big role as well.

Teams would generally rest easy after playing out Bumrah’s initial spell but Kuldeep upping the ante in the middle overs makes Rohit Sharma’s job a little easier.

“I thought the chase was well on target for quite a lot of the time there,” Aussie pacer Josh Hazlewood said. “Till Kuldeep and Jasprit, their eight overs, probably proved the difference again, as they usually do.”

Whether this proves to be the difference against England in the semi-finals in Guyana remains to be seen, but it will surely give the defending champions one more thing to think about before the semi-final against India.

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