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But Bumrah had other plans


Jasprit_Bumrah_India_cricketSunday, the 29th of January 2017, was a high octane, pressure-filled, emotional and thrilling day in sporting history. It brought back the feeling to sport, which everybody craves for day-in and day-out, but only experiences on a rare few occasions in a lifetime. This was one of those days.

First with the five-setter at Melbourne on the Rod Laver Arena between two of the biggest, larger than life tennis players, and then with the thrilling and dramatic T20 International between India and England at Nagpur. If there ever was a day to have tickets for sporting events, then this was the day. The luckier ones had them. The less lucky ones were fortunate enough to watch it live on their television screens.

India started the second T20 International at Nagpur already behind England in the three-match series and lost the toss to them as well. They were sent in to bat. Things didn’t really kick off auspiciously. It was a slow start by India’s standards, and it just got worse as the match went on.

Captain Kohli holed out to long-on in Jordan’s second over and brakes were applied to the already slow start. Raina and Yuvraj couldn’t do much in the middle. Manish Pandey mostly just held on to one end, but not effectively as it was a pretty slow paced innings in the circumstances. The only positive was KL Rahul, who scored a crucial and match winning 71 quite briskly, considering the pitch. His knock helped India post a respectable and defendable total of 144 runs.

With the pitch being difficult to bat on, even the English innings didn’t begin with a rollercoaster as Ashish Nehra bagged both the openers quickly. Morgan and Root steadied the ship and set a perfect platform for Stokes and Buttler to come in and fire all cylinders around the ground to reach the low target without much trouble. That is what happened, but with just a little change in the script.

Stokes came in, fired it all around, got the asking rate low, pretty low, very achievable, and got out. No worries, as Root still occupied one end and Buttler came in to bat with 19 balls remaining and only 28 to get off them. A piece of cake for the likes of Buttler, Root, Moeen & co, but Bumrah had other plans.

It was the 18th over of the innings of low scoring T20 International. The target was a mere 145. The current score was four down for 118. Buttler - one of the best, biggest hitting limited overs batsmen - was on strike. Bumrah - one of the best death bowlers but a little out of form - had the ball. It was crucial for India to not give away more than six runs here. Many said “that’s impossible,” but Bumrah had other plans.

Bumrah ran in towards the batsman in the odd fashion that he does, and delivered his delivery in the odd fashion that he does. He had the brains to use the pitch, hit the deck hard and varied his pace for all six deliveries of the over. The batsmen tried to smash him on every occasion, but they simply could not. They could only manage three from this over. Ashish Nehra, an experienced campaigner, bowled the penultimate over as England needed to score 24 off the last two. It is often said that the penultimate over is much more important than the ultimate one, and it is true most times. On this occasion, the penultimate over gave away sixteen runs of the twenty-four required. The equation now read 8 runs, 6 deliveries. Buttler & Root still out there. Bumrah had to bowl the final over. It was England’s game from here, but Bumrah had other plans.

Bumrah took the ball to bowl the ultimate over of the innings, which would decide whether India stayed alive in the series or not. Bumrah ran in and bowled the first delivery with the same technique as he did in his previous over, and it still worked. Root was LBW. It was plumb. Actually, replays showed it was an umpiring error, but this took nothing away from Bumrah’s delivery; it would have been a dot instead of a wicket, and that was the need of the hour. Second ball, Moeen could only get a single from it. Third delivery, a play and miss as he delivered a change of pace off-cutter. Fourth delivery, he hit the stumps from a length ball and Buttler was gone, fifth ball 1 leg bye, sixth ball dot and that is how Bumrah won it for India out of nowhere. It had been England’s game, but Bumrah had other plans.

Bumrah, now called Boomrah after such heroics, had made the ultimate over count in spite of almost losing the match in the penultimate over. Boomrah made history. Boomrah bowled two of his best overs till date. Boomrah made it possible for India to win, and to stay alive in the series because Boomrah had other plans.


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