India v Bangladesh, World T20 2016, Group 2, Bangalore March 23, 2016

Bumrah's calm expression belies a night of high drama

Jasprit Bumrah held his nerve on a stressful night and, although he went relatively unnoticed, that helped to pave the way to India's win
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Match Day: Bumrah showed mental toughness

Fine leg, first over, first ball of the innings. A clip around the corner, a routine stop. Jasprit Bumrah runs around, bends down, lets the ball come to him, and lets it slip through his fingers and roll into the boundary cushions.

Short fine leg, fifth over of the innings. An offbreak that turns and jumps, a top-edged sweep. Bumrah steadies himself under the ball, lets it fall into his hands, and sees it bounce out.

Other cricketers might slump to the earth, swear at themselves, kick the ground, or fling their caps away. Bumrah just stands there, staring straight ahead. He always wears a quiet and earnest expression, and it doesn't really change that much.

But the same expression can take on entirely different meanings in different situations, as the Russian filmmaker Lev Kuleshov demonstrated a century ago, with the same shot of an expressionless actor juxtaposed in turn against shots of a bowl of soup, a child in a coffin, and a woman sprawled languorously on a couch.

Bumrah stares straight ahead, quietly and earnestly.

Tamim Iqbal is the beneficiary of both the misfield and the dropped catch. It is Bumrah's fate to bowl the next over, and Tamim charges him first ball, gets a bit of width, and slaps him away through point. Then he opens his shoulders to a full ball and pastes it down the ground for another four. Last ball of the over, he jumps out of his crease again. It's a shortish ball that cramps him for room and hurries him. The attempted pull shoots in an unintended direction, through the off side. But the unintended direction is a gap, between short extra cover and mid-off. Four more.

Sixteen runs come off that over, the sixth of Bangladesh's innings, and they are 45 for 1 at the end of it. They are nicely on course for their target of 147.

The misfield, the dropped catch, and the streaky off-side pull are emblematic of a match where cause and consequence are hard to match up. Over the next few overs, Sabbir Rahman grabs 26 off 15 balls with nearly every run coming off the edges of his bat. R Ashwin drops a catch running in from sweeper cover. Mashrafe Mortaza and Shakib Al Hasan swat a couple of sixes. A couple of wickets go down as well, but everything else seems to be falling Bangladesh's way.

At the 12-over mark, they need 52 off 48 balls with six wickets in hand. Easy-peasy.

The first act of redemption is Ashwin's: an over of jaw-dropping quality, an over of flight, dip and vicious turn. He gets Shakib caught at slip first ball, an outside edge from a forward defensive in a T20 match. Then he rips the ball past Soumya Sarkar's bat three times in four balls.

Fifty two from 48 is now 51 from 42. Not so easy-peasy now.

The equation is down to 34 from 24, with five wickets in hand, when Bumrah comes back into the attack. His figures, at this point, are 2-0-19-0.

Bumrah. Gangly, awkward Bumrah with the quiet, earnest expression. He is a good bowler, hits the deck and cramps the right-handers with awkward bounce. At the death he can bowl the yorker. Against New Zealand, he bowled five of them in a row, three to the left-handed Corey Anderson, the third ripping out middle stump, and two to the right-handed Grant Elliott.

But India were bowling first that day, and New Zealand were stuttering on a difficult pitch. Now the scoreboard favours Bangladesh, and Bumrah is coming back from a misfield, a spilled sitter and an expensive second over.

The first ball is very full, though not quite in the blockhole, and Sarkar clips it away for two. Sarkar makes room next ball, exposes his stumps, and has to plonk his bat down in a hurry to protect them from a pinpoint yorker and squeeze the ball away for a single. The out-of-form opener, demoted to No. 7, is now off strike. On strike now is the fluent, in-form Mahmudullah.

Bumrah spears in another yorker, the best of the over, angling in and denying room to a batsman who likes to open his bat face and steer the ball either side of point. All Mahmudullah can do is jam his bat down and stop the ball from hitting the stumps.

The next ball is in the blockhole again, but just a touch wider, and it is a reminder to Bumrah of the minimal margin for error. Mahmudullah angles his bat face just so, and a sprawling Yuvraj Singh, diving from backward point, manages to get a fingertip to it and deflect it towards the fielder at sweeper cover and keep it down to two runs.

Next ball, Mahmudullah doesn't give himself room. He steps across his stumps instead, looking for the gaps either side of or over short fine leg. Bumrah's missile homes in on the base of off stump, and doesn't give the batsman any angle to work with. Mahmudullah manufactures a whipped single through square leg.

Last ball of the over, and Bumrah zeroes in on the blockhole again. Sarkar tries to use the angle across him to steer the ball past short third man. He only gets a glancing touch on it, and MS Dhoni, diving to his left, can't take the catch behind the wicket.

Still, only seven from the over, and Bumrah has kept India in the game. Bangladesh need 27 from the last three overs. Ashish Nehra gives them only six from his first five balls, but Mahmudullah, calm, crisp Mahmudullah, puts the last one away, an inch-perfect drive to the right of sweeper cover.

It is now down to 17 off the last 12 balls. Here is Bumrah again.

The yorker is a difficult ball to bowl. Overpitch it, it's a full-toss. Underpitch it, it's a half-volley. And that's with a batsman standing still. A batsman moving away from his stumps or across them, stepping down the pitch or deep into his crease, is another variable entirely.

The yorker also takes a lot of effort, an extra thrust of taut arm and tiring shoulder.

For all these reasons, Bumrah's fourth over isn't as good as his third. But if he overpitches, he only does so to the extent of bowling hard-to-hit low full-tosses. If he underpitches, he still bowls it full enough to deny any elevation or room for a full, free swing of the bat. He sends down six balls, all there or thereabouts, and gives away six singles. It is not the perfect over, but it's a bloody good one.

Bumrah finishes with figures of 4-0-32-0. They are unremarkable at first glance, even ordinary, and they do not say anything about the match he has had. They do not reveal how he has kept India in the game. Neither does his face. On it, as always, is a quiet and earnest expression.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on March 25, 2016, 13:05 GMT

    Bumrah needs to work on his fielding but India have stumbled upon someone who can bowl at the death. Jonty Rhodes comically tweeted that he is waiting for him to return to the Mumbai Indians to work on his fielding, not his exact words but it was the gist of it.

  • biju on March 25, 2016, 8:04 GMT

    In his four overs, minimum three overs India need to keep for last overs, He is final overs specialists. But earlier he is almost expensive bowler, here the importance of Irfan pathan or somebody like that. Like that player need to come in place Sikhar Dhawan, If he can bowl first overs well and also he can come as opener as well.

  • Nathan on March 25, 2016, 5:31 GMT

    Bumrah did bowl his last two overs with determination and offered no freebies for boundaries, but kudos also BD batsmen not to lose any wickets and avoiding dot balls, during those 2 overs. What did BD team in the last over was their over confidence to knock-off in GRAND STYLE the 2 runs in the remaining 3 balls

  • Jose on March 25, 2016, 2:41 GMT

    @HARSHTMM ON MARCH 24, 2016, 15:45 GMT

    Sorry, about my miscommunication. The celebrations were for the Indian victory. No doubt about it. Even bigger than what I had seen on earlier occasions on India beating Pakistan! That, was a bit of a surprise.

    My post was on a minor plot within the big story. Though there is strong rivalry (very sporting, though) among Baroda, Maharashtra, & Gujarat Ranji fans (like we often see among the fans of different county teams in UK, or Sheffield Shield teams in Australia), I saw, among the larger scene of an Indian victory celebration, the ones who used to argue the case of the intra -Gujarat rivalry, giving high fives and embracing each other in glee.

    The problem was in my communication, rather than local parochialism. I would be doing a big disservice to Gujarat, which fully embraced me as one among them ever since I came to teach at IIM in 1966. And never went back to my home town even after retirement. They are truly cosmopolitan!

  • Arun on March 24, 2016, 22:39 GMT

    Exactly, this is the difference between Bangles and the Indian team. The Indian team had a below par score (for them) but they kept themselves in it all the time via people like Bumrah and Ashwin and the incredible captaincy of Mr Cool. Heck, they got 3 wickets in the last 3 bowls and with only 1 run to defend for a tie. It is near heroic. This is almost like that famous last over from Slinga Mahalinga against the Saffers many years ago.

  • Indian on March 24, 2016, 18:01 GMT

    Bumrah is a terrific death bowler and a real find but he is a liability on the field. On a lighter note if the current team Indian team ever had to field a 100 x 4 relay team then i am guessing Ashwin,Nehra and Bumrah's names won't figure on the list !!!

  • Akash Patel on March 24, 2016, 17:01 GMT

    299$ package to watch the game online, 1 call in sick day at work, 10 nails lost in the last over, watching tiger striped fans bash their head over their head in disppinments = priceless.

  • Robert on March 24, 2016, 16:41 GMT

    Good comeback by Bumrah after that dropped catch. This guy has good potential in him and kudos to selectors (or whoever suggested his name to the selectors) for choosing him in the squad. He has been performing consistently since his debut and yesterday' s was his first pressure/tough match and he did well. Hope he does well in the future as well and stays in the squad for a long time.

  • Heramb on March 24, 2016, 16:27 GMT

    Agree with Samroy on Pandya. He may become a good even world class all-rounder few years down the line.Considering Harbhajan's record against Australia,with turning tracks on offer,Bhajji in place of Pandya and Rahane instead of Dhawan are the changes I would expect in the Indian XI for the match against Australia.

  • Sharmin on March 24, 2016, 15:59 GMT

    The unsung hero in the Indian line up. I have never seen him making wild celebrations when he gets a wicket and never scolds or swears at himself when he is taken to the stands. He is matured more than what he should be with his age. Looking to be a great ambassador of Indian cricket after Sachin and Dhoni.

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