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T20 WC: Chuck the Big 3, It’s Just Big Me – Jasprit Bumrah Is the Headliner Now

T20 World Cup: Jasprit Bumrah might be too reticent to listen to Kendrick Lamar. If he wasn't, what'd he have sung?

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Cricket
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Cricket statistics can often be ambiguous.

Case in point – first delivery of the 17th over, of Saturday’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2024 final match between India and South Africa.

What does the scoreboard say?

Heinrich Klaasen – caught Rishabh Pant – bowled Hardik Pandya.

Perhaps, had this been football, besides the usual pronouncement, it would have enclosed additional information – auxiliary, yet efficacious.

Perhaps, the scoreboard would have mentioned:

Heinrich Klaasen – caught Rishabh Pant – bowled Hardik Pandya – assisted by Jasprit Bumrah.

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Let’s Rewind – Before 16.1, There Was 1.3

Before 16.1, we had 1.3.

The third delivery of the second over of South Africa’s innings. Bumrah pitches it between middle and off, extracts zip off the surface, the ball angles away from Reeza Hendricks, and hits the top of off-stump.

If this dismissal evoked déjà vu, you’re not alone. For, it was a sight we had seen before.

Bumrah took an early wicket with a similar delivery against Martin Guptill in India’s 2019 ODI World Cup semi-final against New Zealand, and again in the perform-or-perish 2021 T20 World Cup match against the same opponent and batter. Or, if you want to rewind the clock further, how about the 2016 T20 World Cup semi-final against the West Indies, where a precise yorker uprooted Chris Gayle’s stumps?

Barring Bumrah’s early breakthroughs, what unites these three matches?

The outcome. India ended up on the losing side, every time.

Would it be the same on Saturday?

That 16th Over – Can We Hang It in the Louvre?

Would history repeat itself on Saturday?

It so nearly did. The 15th over of the 177-run chase saw Heinrich Klaasen ripping into Axar Patel, hitting a couple of sixes and as many maximums, and subsequently, accumulating 24 runs in that over. The equation, which was 54 of 36 deliveries at a required run rate of 9 not very long ago, was now 30 of 30. Run-a-ball.

Rohit Sharma turned to Bumrah, more in hope than belief. Not ‘Win us the match as you always do,’ but ‘Please, do something to bail us out.’

Bumrah responded with 1, 2, Dot, Dot, 1, Dot. Just four runs from the 16th over, after the previous two had yielded 38.

The equation was 26 of 24. Having invited duress, Klaasen was always likely to have an attempt at mitigating it in the very next over. Or, the very next delivery.

And now, we arrive at 16.1.

Pandya bowled wide, Klaasen swung wildly, edged faintly, and Pant caught him behind. What the scorecard won’t show is: ‘assisted by Jasprit Bumrah.’

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Revisiting Bumrah’s Past Performances in World Cups

Bumrah was competing in his fifth World Cup – across the two formats. Let us revisit his performances in the previous four instalments.

  • 2016 T20 World Cup – A wicket in every match, barring one.

  • 2019 ODI World Cup – India’s leading wicket-taker, with 18 scalps. With an economy rate of 4.41 runs per over, he was also the most economical bowler among those with 10 or more wickets.

  • 2021 T20 World Cup – India’s leading wicket-taker again, with 7 scalps. His economy rate of 5.08 runs per over was the lowest among bowlers who took more than five wickets.

  • 2023 ODI World Cup – 20 wickets, second-highest for India. But, his economy rate of 4.06 runs per over was second only to Ravichandran Ashwin, who played a solitary match.

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That One Major Blemish, Which Could Not Be Concealed With an Assortment of Amazing Achievements

For all that he had done for the nation, he had never been a world champion – lest we forget, for no fault of his own.

That, he broke the record for most wickets in a calendar year in T20Is merely six months into his international career, or he is the second-fastest Indian to reach 100 ODI wickets, or the joint third-fastest Indian bowler to take 150 Test wickets, or even the first Indian pacer to attain world number 1 ranking in ICC Men’s Test rankings, remained a postscript.

An assortment of amazing achievements, yes, but still not enough to compensate for the major blemish – he has never been a world champion.

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The Perennial Postscript...

When Bumrah was given the responsibility to bowl the 16th over, he, his teammates, coaches, fans, and the nation at large, knew that he was not the postscript anymore. For that fleeting-yet-pivotal, ephemeral-yet-climacteric moment, Bumrah was the main event. The show-stopper. 4 runs in that over, followed by 2 runs and a wicket in his last over. 6 runs from 12 deliveries – at the death, in a World Cup final.

And when curtains were eventually drawn on the match, the chronicles which triggered the most clamour pertained to the T20I retirement of the two luminaries – Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Rightfully so, for what they had achieved. Across formats, it was the second World Cup triumph for the pair.

Bumrah was content with being the postscript again. He earned the Player of the Tournament award, for taking 15 wickets at an economy rate of 4.17 runs per over. A spell of 4-0-18-2, however, was not enough to earn him the Player of the Match award.
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Little could he care. All he wanted was for his team to win.

You play the sport for this. For these days, for big stages, when you do well and get your team through, there's no better feeling. My son is here, my family is here and I am happy that I could do something special for India.
Jasprit Bumrah
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...Is Now the Headliner

What should not remain a postscript anymore, is that Bumrah is now a world champion. There is a debate about modern-day pace greats? That, Bumrah lacks one particular feat, should not be a case in point anymore.

For years – of course, owing to the team’s success – such discourses have been dominated by the Australian trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins. There was the big three, the world champions, and then there was Bumrah. A one-man army, against a trio.

Bumrah, one would assume, might be too modest, too unostentatious, too reticent to listen to American rapper Kendrick Lamar.

Had he did, following last night’s heroics, he might have sung:

“F*** the big three, it’s just big me.”

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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