There was a sense of inevitability when Jasprit Bumrah marked his run-up in Mumbai’s bid to defend 11 runs in the Super Over. In his prime, maybe, the unanimous choice would have been vested on that freakish trickster, Lasith Malinga. But the Sri Lankan effectively seems an expended force these days.
Expectedly, Bumrah defended the 11 runs, even if there were a few nerve-twitcing moments when he began the over with a no-ball and then a wide off the second ball. Thereafter, though, he put his progress in perspective, and it was not just the yorkers that stood out, but his variation of pace. McCullum couldn’t decipher it, and when Finch was on strike, he slipped in that famous blur of a yorker outside the off-stump. With eight of two balls required, Finch tried to manufacture room, but Bumrah kept it low and full, restricting it to a single. Another of his trademark yorker to McCullum and the game was sealed.
Unassuming Krunal’s value
Among the Pandya brothers, Krunal and Hardik, the webby glaze on the Mumbai Indians’ jersey is more in sync with the latter’s disposition. Whereas Hardik is all tattooed bling and Carribean bluster, Krunal is more unassuming and withdrawn, as elder siblings generally tend to. So much so that his nature is more in tune with the minimalistic cobalt-blue jersey they had worn in the 2009 edition.
The contrast is perceptible in their bowling too. Hardik looks to spear in the ball as fast as he could, there’s that springy load-up and whippy release, conceding an impression that he is over-expending his twitch muscles. Krunal, on the other hand, just saunters into the crease, and almost reluctantly releases the ball, sometimes he slings it in, without even attempting to break a drop of sweat. The contrast blurs when their leather is replaced with wood-both like to have an almighty swish at the bowlers from the word go.
But it’s their bowling that’s discussed more these days, and as this season unrolled, Krunal has emerged as one of Mumbai’s understated bowling heroes this season to the extend that he has made Harbhajan Singh, Mumbai’s second highest wicket-taker ever, a less indispensable presence this season.
On Saturday, he reinforced his value again, his four overs costing merely 14 runs, and as pertinently snaffling three wickets-those of Dinesh Karthik, Irfan Pathan and Ravindra Jadeja. You might be tempted to dismiss his exploits as incidental, as it so often happens in T20 cricket, and more so as his craft looks one-dimensional, or even ordinary.
But this makes his case even more compelling, as how a left-arm spinner of such limited means and variations is able to be so prolific. The basic tenet of his bowling is the simplicity of it and the awareness of his limitations. He knows he doesn’t purchase precocious spin, so he doesn’t attempt that. He knows he can’t make the ball feverishly fizz off the surface, like Ravindra Jadeja in his mood. But what he has like Jadeja is the smarts. He is quick to size up batsmen, sense their mood. Like when Dinesh Karthik charged down to him the first ball and defended it, he knew he would attempt this again. The next ball was brisker, fuller and wider down the leg-side. Karthik came down the track, but completely missed the ball.
Most importantly, he hardly provides the batsman the release ball, which is borne by the stat that he has leaked only seven boundaries and three sixes in 138 legal deliveries, of which 42 were dot balls.
Then Krunal’s night was far from finished. He would come back to score a 20-ball 29, which almost took them home.
He was inches short of nailing the match for Mumbai off the last ball. He couldn’t, but that doesn’t diminish his valour, or resourcefulness, one bit.
It was a tad surprising when Suresh Raina signalled James Faulkner to bowl in the Super Over. Not that Faulkner hasn’t the necessary requisites to stifle batsmen, what with his wide range of cutters and slower balls that makes him such a dangerous proposition at the death. But how could Raina have overlooked the man who brought the match from the clutch of defeat, the young seamer Basil Thampi, whose reputation to slot in brisk yorkers is burgeoning by the day. Maybe, it was the latter’s inexperience in crunch situations.
But if Gujarat was still clinging onto the match, it was largely due to his late burst, in which he nailed Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya, besides delivering a thrifty penultimate over, wherein three wickets fell and three runs leaked. His last over was arguably the difference between Mumbai winning in Superover than in regulation time.
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