Indian bowling has what it takes to win the T20 World Cup

Team India vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup 2024
Team India vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup 2024 (PC: Debasis Sen)

Batters win matches and bowlers win tournaments. It’s a cliché, but continues to be true. Some adages do not become old and stay relevant over ages. This is one of those. It’s quite like the saying in football that strikers win games and defenders win the tournament for you.

Looking at that, one cannot discount the role played by the Indian bowling unit in the T20 World Cup. They have been the bedrock on which this team has come this far, hoping to go one step further. It’s a versatile attack, quite like what South Africa have, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the team that bowls better will have the last laugh in the final.

The first name that stands out quite obviously is Jasprit Bumrah. He is unquestionably the best bowler world cricket has seen in the last few years. Awkward action is a popular explanation. He is more than that. The wrist bending in those unusual angles is one, but the most important element is intelligence. He thinks, and does that all the time. One can teach how to bowl, cannot teach how to think. Bumrah has that. It’s his biggest strength other than the skills that he certainly has.

Tournament figures of 106 runs conceded from 25.4 overs and 13 wickets are downright ridiculous. It’s an economy rate of 4.12 and that’s outrageous. Batters have not just struggled to hit him, but found it hard to make contact with the ball. He has been intouchable and that’s an absurd thought when it comes to T20 cricket. How do you hit someone you cannot touch? It’s like chasing a shadow.

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Axar Patel celebrating with Rohit Sharma
Axar Patel celebrating with Rohit Sharma (Image: BCCI)

The most heartening fact from the Indian point of view is the kind of back-up Bumrah has. People mention Kuldeep Yadav and for valid reasons. He has been deceptive on those pitches not the best for batters and made life difficult for them with his bag of tricks. Ten wickets from four matches with an economy rate of 5.87 are magnificent. And he is high on confidence as well.

It doesn’t end there. There are two underrated high-quality performers in that pack of six. Both are left-armers. One bowls fast and the other is slower. Arshdeep Singh is not often talked about. Visit the stats and you will find that he is the second-highest wicket-taker with 15. The economy rate of 7.50 is acceptable when you can operate efficiently in both stages of an innings.

The other one is Axar Patel. Slow, straight, no turn and no problem. Faster than most spinners, he keeps things simple and that is the quality he brings to the plate. Not everything about spin bowling has to be complicated. Axar follows the straightest of strategies and that is ‘if you miss, I hit’. It’s an age-old concept which has not been eroded by time.

Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja appear to be a bit below-par at the moment, which makes the South African attack look stronger on paper. There is greater firepower in the Proteas bowling line-up, but on a day in T20 cricket, anything can happen. India have what it takes to give them a run for their money. Bowlers, in form or not, are the foundations of that belief.

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