MI B-2 bombers roaring: Hapless others against the Bumrah-Boult bolt
Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult together demolished opposition batting lineups with ridiculous ease in the 2020 IPL. Seems as though this year will be no different as the two pacers appear to be at the top of their game yet again.
The world’s biggest and most anticipated T20 competition has kickstarted with a bang yet again. The IPL is back in India, and the excitement among the fans and players alike is electric. The first week of the IPL has been as entertaining as ever, with low-scoring thrillers, high-scoring cliff-hangers, dazzling sixes and flying stumps all giving us an idea as to how closely fought the rest of the tournament will be. Though still in the early stages of the league, several players have shown what they plan on bringing to the table over the course of the next one and a half months, and a sense of caution has developed amongst other teams with regard to certain players.
The match between MS Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings and Sanju Samson-led Rajasthan Royals today was a one-sided affair in favour of the men in yellow as the RR batsmen collapsed in a shocking manner, spooning catches and falling lbw ball after ball. From a reasonable 87/2, Rajasthan fell to 95/7, and the fate of the Royals was all but sealed. But of the many excitements that the IPL has to offer, the one that is arguably the most anticipated match after match is the ‘B2-bomber’ of Boult and Bumrah, one of the most lethal bowling combinations in the IPL at present. After losing the narrowly-contested season opener to RCB, MI have bounced back in style, winning their next two games against SRH and KKR. During both these matches, there came a stage where the Indians seemed to be down and out, and winning seemed to be unimaginable. Boult and Bumrah, though, revived Mumbai from the brink of total demolition.
During the death overs of both matches, the duo was as efficient as ever and made light work of intimidating batsmen such as Andre Russell and Dinesh Karthik. They seem to have picked up from where they left last year. In the previous edition of the tournament, Boult and Bumrah together snagged up 52 wickets, with Bumrah accounting for 27 of those and Boult finishing with 25. They were also the second and third leading wicket takers in the competition, only behind Delhi’s Kagiso Rabada. The two have been largely influential while playing for their country as well. Bumrah has played 50 T20Is, and is the second highest wicket taker for India in the format, with 59 wickets. His economy in the format also stands at a brilliant 6.66, coupled with an equally impressive bowling average of 20.25.
Boult on the other hand, has represented New Zealand in 34 T20Is, has 46 wickets to his name at a magnificent average of 23.34, while sporting an impressive economy of 8.53. In the IPL, Bumrah has played 95 matches, with 112 wickets at an average of 23.68. Boult has played 51 matches in the Indian league, and has 69 wickets in his bag at an average of 24.17. These statistics prove the worth of each of these players, and how they have unsurprisingly pulled Mumbai out of seemingly hopeless positions on their own. Bumrah, a right arm fast bowler, has over the years garnered a reputation of being a bowler able to stem the run flow in even the most unlikely situations. His unorthodox action and continuous changes of pace, line and length make the best of batsmen look like amateurs.
Boult, a left arm pacer, has a more traditional and orthodox bowling action, but makes life just as hard for the opposition. The impeccable control they have over their line and length and their ability to replicate that time and again makes them priceless weapons for their sides. The mastery that these two have displayed is reminiscent of that of the Australian pace attack of the early 2000s. Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee created similar trouble for their opponents multiple times. McGrath, like Boult, toyed with the batsmen almost all the time, having them jumping and shuffling at the crease, unable to guess his next move and what line or length he would choose to bowl. Brett Lee, like Bumrah, was just raw pace. Whenever he let go of a bouncer, the batsmen was lucky to sway out of its way in time, and he often set the perfect platform for McGrath to take wickets by terrorising the batsmen and instilling a sense of fear among them.
Just like that iconic bowling partnership from 20 years ago, Bumrah and Boult are clear of the roles they are to play in the success of their team. Mumbai’s success last year was largely because of Boult providing them wickets within the powerplay, more often than not in the first over itself. While Bumrah stalled the runs from one end, Boult repeatedly made breakthroughs at the other. In some games the bowlers reversed roles, but that worked just as well too. It is an undeniable luxury for Rohit Sharma to have two of the finest exponents of fast bowling in the world in his arsenal, and their dedication and hunger to win makes it a nightmare for other teams to face them.
There is at least one frontline bowling pair that most teams in the IPL possess. For DC it is Kagiso Rabada and the currently unavailable Anrich Nortje, for RCB it is Kyle Jamieson and Mohammed Siraj, for CSK it is Deepak Chahar and Shardul Thakur, but none have been as instrumental in their team’s success as the double Bs, Bumrah and Boult. Already a well balanced and meticulously structured side, the Mumbai Indians are yet again favourites to win the title for a sixth time, and if Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah are able to continue their current form throughout the season, then they might be well on course to get their hands on the trophy yet again.