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Match Analysis

South Africa were winning, then came Jasprit Bumrah

The India quick is like a lifeline, and has to be used when really needed, but it looked like he may have been left too late in the final

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
29-Jun-2024
About 20 minutes before the toss, as he finishes measuring his run-up and bends low to mark it with white paint, Jasprit Bumrah feels a pat on his back. He turns back to see it is his wife, Sanjana Ganesan, a media professional herself, who minutes ago was shadow-boxing with Crystal Arnold, a TV anchor from South Africa, for the camera.
She perhaps wishes Bumrah luck, who puts the bucket of paint down and hugs her, followed by a quick peck on the cheek. The final kiss of luck needed for the perfect fast bowler, still awaiting a world title despite three finals and a semi-final all formats put together? This is his fourth. With the skill, the discipline and the brain he has, Bumrah hardly needs any luck, but perhaps his team does. Just that little bit in a crucial moment. The rest they can leave to Bumrah.
They have made the knockouts of five out of the last six World Cups, but are called chokers for not winning any. This is the sixth of seven. They are playing against another team that is called chokers.

****

The last ball of the eighth over, bowled by Kuldeep Yadav, has been deposited in the stands by Quinton de Kock. India have got what can be called a strictly par total only because of Kuldeep and Bumrah. Otherwise it is insufficient. After a World Cup full of brave cricket, they have suddenly dropped that method in the final. There have been just three boundary attempts from overs 6 to 13, none of them from Virat Kohli.
South Africa look in control, the last five overs have gone for 48 and no threat to the wicket, the momentum is with them, the pitch is not gripping, and the volunteers are now looking for the ball that de Kock seems to have lost for them. The cameras don't catch it, but Bumrah goes to Kuldeep, probably tells him it's okay, one day or one over doesn't make you a bad bowler, and gives him a high five. Kuldeep has previously shown he can be down on himself perhaps too readily. You have got us here. Let's hang in. Perhaps leave the rest to me?

****

De Kock has played his favourite pick-up pull shot off Arshdeep Singh because there is no fine leg. Next ball he tries it again but there is a fine leg there now. It is Kuldeep. Takes a safe enough catch. All the attention goes to Arshdeep standing on the pitch with arms aloft. Bumrah, though, runs towards Rishabh Pant pointing with his finger. It's an "I told you so." Pant acknowledges him.
Even without the ball in hand, Bumrah is cooking.

****

With the ball in hand, Bumrah has to be used judiciously. He is like the lifelines at a game show. After the powerplay, you use his overs only when you can't do without it. Like against England, you don't even use them all. Sometimes you keep them just to make the target look 10 runs bigger. When Marco Jansen is the opposition's No. 7, it is possible you can hold him back till too late.
From the fifth to the 14th over, South Africa have hit at least one boundary every over. The ball is coming on nicely, and Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller are looking good. Rohit Sharma still doesn't go to his lifeline with just nine an over required over the last six overs with six wickets in hand. Probably because he knows he can use Bumrah to barge through once a wicket falls.
Klaasen, though, gets stuck into Axar Patel's last over. Axar has been an inspired selection because India had one left-arm spinner allrounder already. During this World Cup, Axar has been Rohit's go-to man: promoted when wickets fall early, often the first spinner to bowl, often inside the powerplay. Even in the final, his 47 off 31 has allowed Kohli to bat the way he did. His closing, though, hasn't been good: dozily run-out and now 24 runs off his last over.
At 30 off 30 now, it seems it is too late for even Bumrah to do something. Is it ever?
First ball: an inside edge mighty close to taking a wicket. On the second ball, Klaasen takes a couple to bring up the fastest fifty a World Cup final, off just 23 balls. Then Bumrah gets some tail into the pads. Then the yorker. Rohit says it is reverse. Bumrah with reverse. A lifeline with a lifeline. South Africa, though, need just 30 off five overs.
When Hardik Pandya gets an outside edge on a wide slower ball to send Klaasen back, and the way Jansen bats that over out, Miller becomes the massive wicket. Bumrah starts the 18th over around the wicket, the seam is up, the ball angles in and then leaves Miller so late he can't do anything. Everybody thinks he is bowled, but that expectant flashing bail doesn't appear. He has missed by a whisker. Miller has survived.
Against Afghanistan, right here, Bumrah began his day with a slower ball at the start of the second over to get Rahmanullah Gurbaz. Here he is hardly bowling slower balls. He just knows what to do. Except that he doesn't have the luck to take the wicket that can settle it here and now. He continues, though, and bursts through Jansen with the possible reverse. Just three from the over, he leaves others 19 to defend in two overs. From 30 off 30 when he came back earlier than usual. Is it ever too late for Bumrah?

****

It's all done. Criminally, Bumrah is not the Player of the Match. India, though, have a World Cup trophy. Finally. For the first time since 2011. A stamp on the quality they have always known exists in their team. You can't deny Bumrah the other award, though. With 15 wickets at 8.26 apiece and just 4.17 per over, Bumrah is the Player of the Tournament. While many are celebrating and being interviewed, Bumrah quietly stands with his wife and baby for a quick moment before she has to rush off.
Sanjana still has work to do. Jasprit's is done.
For now.

Sidharth Monga is a senior writer at ESPNcricinfo

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