back icon


All is well if Jasprit Bumrah is bowling well

Last updated on 19 Aug 2023 | 02:18 AM
Google News IconFollow Us
All is well if Jasprit Bumrah is bowling well

The form of Jasprit Bumrah and Prasidh Krishna, alongside the bowling changes were spot on in the larger scheme of things

Only one game is too soon to jump to conclusions. But such is the impatience in the stratosphere of Indian cricket that judgments post every match are inevitable. As wrong as it is, the first T20I against Ireland was laden with plenty of positives from the bowling perspective.

Before this match, India had contested Ireland in one bilateral ODI and four bilateral T20Is, but this series is probably the most relevant set of games the Men in Blue will play against their Irish counterparts. 

The reason is solely the ODI World Cup. The series serves as the perfect platform to mark the return of three potential key members of India’s 2023 Men’s ODI World Cup squad - Jasprit Bumrah, Prasidh Krishna, and Washington Sundar, who had been out for 11, 12, and six months respectively. The formats are different, but given their big hiatus, a workload of four overs each per match to get back to the hustle and bustle of international cricket seemed perfect for the return. 

One cannot stress Bumrah’s significance for India’s World Cup chances. Despite playing only 72 ODIs in his career so far, the Gujarat pacer holds strong claims to be included in India’s all-time ODI XI. Imagine losing such a force in the most prestigious cricket tournament. 

Life without Bumrah is not easy, and India learnt it the hard way in Australia last year. 

Then comes Prasidh, who has shown enough promise in his brief 14-game ODI career. He is exactly the enforcer India need in the middle overs. Meanwhile, Sundar kills three birds with one stone - the only off-spinner on India’s radar to tackle left-handed batting line-ups and a left-handed batter to elongate the batting at number eight. 

Two of them - Prasidh and Sundar - may not always be the first-choice players during the mega event, but each one of them completes the jigsaw of India’s squad in an essential manner. 

On Friday (August 18), with the eyes set on the form and fitness of these three, Bumrah set the tone like he never left. Opting to bowl first in his first T20I as captain, the 29-year-old struck not once but twice in his first over. While Andrew Balbirnie, Ireland’s third most-capped T20I cricketer, played one onto the stumps, Lorcan Tucker’s three-ball stay was a testament to the mental scars Bumrah can leave on a batter. His reaction after blocking an inswinging yorker from the seamer said it all. 

It led to his dismissal on the next ball when Tucker moved across to scoop, pre-meditating another yorker. However, Bumrah pulled the length back to hit him on the bat to produce a caught behind. The first over was enough to provide the selectors and the fans with peaceful sleep. There was swing, there were wickets, there was the unplayable yorker, and there was the trademark Bumrah celebration. There was no conspicuous change in his bowling action. All of this sent social media into a frenzy. It was like he had never left. 

The only question was probably the pace, but Bumrah increased that gradually through his first spell and touched 140 in his second spell. 

Later, he conceded only one run in the 19th over of the innings, bowling yorkers and slower ones. Finishing with figures of 4-0-24-2, Bumrah ticked the first box for India. 

Onto the second, Prasidh Krishna also struck in his first over. Brought in the fifth over, Prasidh got the 5’ 10 tall Harry Tector with a short ball. But again, looking at speeds, the best way to judge a seamer returning from injury, Prasidh was more fluent than Bumrah. He bowled consistently around the mid-130s and even touched 145 on the penultimate ball of his first over. He had figures of 4-0-32-2 on a successful T20I debut and return to India’s white-ball setup. 

Aiding extra bounce, Malahide offered perfect conditions for Prasidh’s return. The fact that he delivered 29.2% of his deliveries in the back-of-a-length bodes well with India’s plans of using him as an enforcer. India restricted Ireland to 30/4 in the powerplay, with Ravi Bishnoi chipping in with a wicket. 

The bowling changes later hinted that India’s objective in the series goes beyond these three T20 games. In usual circumstances, you won’t see an off-spinner against an all-right-handed batting line-up on that Malahide pitch or a dibbly dobby seamer in operation. Yes, Washington Sundar (0/19 in three overs) and Shivam Dube (0/6 in one over) were the fifth and sixth bowling options. However, with Ireland 44/5 at Dube’s induction into the attack, India had the option of going for the kill.

Instead, they were happy to let Ireland off the hook in their bid to create options for the future.

Giving the Irish batters a breather almost cost India the match. The hosts recovered from 44/5 to post 139 on the board. They conceded 53 runs in the last five overs, with three overs going for 13, 15 and 22 runs. Yet again, they were battered by the lower order as Barry McCarthy eased to his maiden international half-century. Yet again, Arshdeep Singh faltered in his final over, conceding 22 runs in the 20th. 

But in a larger scheme, the series is about reinforcing India’s resources for the upcoming World Cup, and the first T20 indicates a positive step towards that objective. One match is too soon, but the Men in Blue will hope things continue the way they have started in Malahide.

Related Article