Bumrah gives India’s T20 team teeth it otherwise lacks

Jasprit Bumrah aginst RCB. Source: IPL

Royal Challengers Bangalore scored 196 in their 20 overs, and Mumbai Indians needed just 15.3 overs to chase it down. Needless to say, it was a belter of a wicket. But in the midst of such carnage, Jasprit Bumrah bowled his four overs, conceded just 21 runs and picking up five wickets. 

Just this one statistic is enough to demonstrate the difference between the best and the rest. How good Bumrah is should actually be the question. In one sentence, he is unhittable and unplayable at the moment. Bowling yorkers at will, mixing up pace, and using the short ball on occasion – the aura of Bumrah is such that batters don’t have the courage to take liberties against him. And now that Hardik Pandya has started going to him at the start of the innings, he is getting the opportunity to move the ball as well. 

Take the wicket of Virat Kohli. One of the best batters against pace and in sublime form, Kohli wasn’t comfortable against Bumrah, and was eventually dismissed to one that came in and got a very thin edge. Mahipal Lomror was the other batter who was in form. The moment he came in, Bumrah greeted him with a toe-crusher and got him for a first-ball duck. 

By the time he was into his fourth over, the RCB batters barring Dinesh Karthik were in awe. They would either throw their wickets away or just make basic mistakes, because Bumrah had already won the mental battle. 

Each time we see him bowl like this, we are reminded of the fact that he wasn’t there in Australia for the T20 World Cup in 2022, where England made a mockery of India’s score of 168 in the semi-final. The game was over in a jiffy, and the Indian bowling was no match for Jos Buttler and Alex Hales. 

Bumrah isn’t just a bowler. He is a leader. You need not always be captain to be one. The way he was celebrated by Rohit Sharma, for example, was proof of what he means to this side. As for Bumrah, he did not forget to boost Akash Madhwal, who did not have a good day. That’s what it is about for a leader, and he is clearly going to be India’s go-to man at the T20 World Cup in June. 

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Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma for MI
Jasprit Bumrah and Rohit Sharma for MI (PC: X)

Finally, ahead of the IPL, much was said about Bumrah being unhappy. That he wasn’t keen on playing under Hardik. He was apparently posting cryptic messages on social media, which were interpreted by many as Bumrah not wanting to play the IPL. The truth could well be that he wanted to be captain. In fact, while we don’t know this for certain, any performer of his calibre would naturally want to lead. And he will have an ego. But it was never the case that he won’t play. Or did not want to play.

He is the ultimate professional who is doing the job for his franchise. And there, personal likes and dislikes have no place. Even if he was unhappy – and no one knows his mind other than he himself – he would never let that impact performance. That’s why he is a great. The best ever. And that’s why he is India’s best bet for the World Cup. 

What is heartening to see is his fitness. A comeback is never easy, but to see him bowl now is a delight. He has no discomfort and is running in with full rhythm. In an otherwise mediocre T20 team where there are more questions than answers, Bumrah is a real beacon of hope. With him around, the bowling group will always have their leader, and the skipper his go-to man in difficult situations. Someone who can take 5-21 on a very good batting deck is a real freak of nature. But then, with Bumrah, we always knew it.

Also Read: The Virat debate: Should Kohli make T20 World Cup cut?