CHENNAI: THE nerves that were frayed on Sunday night are back to normal. Though this IPL’s final may still have varying opinions on who the winner could have been, one fact is bound to get a nod from everyone: Jasprit Bumrah was phenomenal for Mumbai Indians.
Krunal Pandya gets biffed by Faf du Plessis in the power play? Bumrah puts out the fire with a five-run over. Shane Watson takes Lasith Malinga for 20 in the 16th over? Bumrah douses it with a four-run one. Watson gives Krunal a 20-run lashing in the 18th? Bumrah gives away just five (four of them off byes) in the 19th and sets up an over that has been seared into the event’s history.
“There’s no doubt that he is going to be a force to reckon with at the World Cup. He’s peaking at the right time, and his bowling rhythm is perfect at the moment,” observed former India pacer TA Sekhar.
Though many may not equate brilliance in the IPL to potential brilliance at the World Cup, Bumrah isn’t just at his lethal best in the 20-over game. He’s a thinking bowler, and that trait was on full display against CSK.
The Men in Yellow were gobbling up anything that was on length or full. Considering that Bumrah has earned his bread and butter with yorkers, many would have expected the 25-year-old to go for the batsmen’s feet.
But Bumrah is Bumrah. He knows he’s fast. He’d had enough time to gauge that the pitch wasn’t taking off the ball’s zip. So he went for another strength: bouncers.
For right-handers, only one of his 16 deliveries landed at length. Each of them was kept outside the off-stump, his natural angle cramping them up if they tried to pull; case in point was one of Watson’s top-edges that was put down by Rahul Chahar. It was the same for southpaws. Eight balls; only one in the slot. On a day when 20 fours and 15 sixes were smashed, Bumrah was the only bowler to reel out his full quota without being hit across or over the ropes.
You don’t really need to rack your brains to think of other instances. Bumrah was the one who’d set up Vijay Shankar’s bowling redemption against Australia in Nagpur two months ago, sending down two overs and taking two wickets while conceding just two runs.
Go back further, and you’ll remember the time when he defended eight against England in a T20I. Heck, many will struggle to come up with another name if they’re asked about bowlers who have used slow yorkers to devastating effect in a Test. Format be damned, India dial B for him whenever they’re in trouble.
“Bumrah’s stock balls tend to come in. But in recent times, he’s also making the ball straighten, which batsmen convert into outswingers by moving inside the line,” explained Sekhar.
“His action already makes it difficult for batsmen. Plus, he’s now started using his yorkers more judiciously. For guys like Hardik (Pandya) and (Andre) Russell — who tend to stay deep in their crease — even his length balls become uncomfortable bouncers. But the way he has increased his unpredictability is just an indication of his maturity.”
Yes, IPL is the ultimate hype machine, one that many players fail to live up to. In March, their promos had billed Bumrah as the No 1 bowler in the world. Their marketing think-tank couldn’t have been more spot on.