Desperate Oz up against Bumrah, India’s enforcer

The key contest in the marquee clash will be between Head-Warner duo and the Indian pacer in the powerplay
India pacer Jasprit Bumrah
India pacer Jasprit Bumrah(File photo | PTI)

CHENNAI: The day is here. After almost three weeks of roller-coaster, the T20 World Cup has reached a stage where every match from here on is a virtual knockout for one team or another. On Monday, it will be Australia, the holders of the ODI WC and World Test Championship titles, who face the heat when they face India. A loss here could be curtains for the 2021 T20 WC champions.

When Josh Hazlewood made that tongue-in-cheek comment about keeping England out of the Super 8s, little did he or his teammates, would have thought they would be in such a position, despite losing just one game so far. But the loss came when it mattered the most; against a rejuvenated Afghanistan. The Rashid Khan-led side, who, should Australia lose, can advance to a global event semifinal for the first time in history if they beat Banglades. But before all that remains the big clash.

Australia vs India. A repeat of the 2023 ODI WC final. The wounds are still fresh for Indian fans, and possibly some of the players too, but this is a different format. India have been on a roll despite not having a single batter dominating the proceedings. In fact, the top three have just one fifty to show, but it is a good thing for India.

In the past, they have scored fifties but barely posted above-par totals and ended up losing the crucial matches. 2021 vs Pakistan. 2022 semifinal vs England. So on and so forth. This time, however, they have batted with intent through and through. But that is not the reason for their unbeaten run. It is the bowling. To filter down further, you can just write one name. Jasprit Bumrah.

Among bowlers with minimum 15 overs, Bumrah has the best average (6.5) and best economy (3.42). He has taken ten wickets in five matches, collected two Player of the Match awards and has been the driving force behind India’s success so far. But no such accolade does justice to the impact he has had in the tournament. To put it into context, Bumrah has taken as many as twice the number of wickets (10) as he has conceded in boundaries (four 4s & a 6).

Now, Australia have faced the India pacer in the past — twice during the last ODI WC — and even got across the line in the summit clash despite the early threat he posed. It was Travis Head who turned the day around on that particular night in Ahmedabad. Barring the lone fifty against Scotland, Head has been on a poor run, but against India one could never rule him out. However, standing in front of Head and David Warner when Australia take the field on Monday will be Bumrah.

As much as it is well established that Bumrah is an all-format giant, in the shortest format, he becomes a different beast. In the middle of a horror season for Mumbai Indians, Bumrah was going at almost run-a-ball at a time when teams were scoring 250s for fun. In this T20 WC, his economy is lower than what it was during the ODI WC. And that in itself sums it up. The question that remains is whether or not Australia can step up against Bumrah. And that is the end game.

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