One got the bowlers out, the other they played and generally disappeared into the tricky scene – India’s selectors will be happy to confirm plans for bigger challenges in the future.
In today’s day and age of countless sponsor awards, one for softball action seems glaringly missed. If one is established, Prasit Krishna will take the lead in breaking it. Just as he will be named in India’s Asia Cup squad to be announced in New Delhi on Monday, India’s World Cup squad will also have one.
After making an impression on Friday on his return after a year, the injured, rehabilitated and rehabilitated Prasith returned with his old vigor and enthusiasm on Sunday. His 2 for 32 in the series opener was a perfect prelude to his stint today against a fine batting deck and under sunny skies. He was generating speed, pulling back balls badly and catching batters on the hop, all without looking like he was whining.
Unlike Jasprit Bumrah, who builds pace only in his last few strides before delivery, Prashit is like a steam engine, almost robotic, before he releases a soft-smooth load. It’s elegant, a power that’s elegant and should make the batsmen feel like he’s been warming up for hours elsewhere before coming on.
Paul Stirling must have felt that way when he was taken out by a ripper. Imagine knowing what’s coming and what you want to do, and yet not being able to control what happens. That’s how Stirling must have felt when he was all caught up and beaten for pace as he pulled a bland top edge through the hands of Arshdeep Singh at fine leg.
It’s a shoulder-high short-ball, a mistake that Stirling tries to take from outside off. A split-second indecisiveness set Ireland back early in a high-stakes chase. Their powerplay enforcer, the most experienced of both XIs and the most efficient batsman, was ducked in four balls.
Lorcan Tucker, who replaced Stirling, got an early taste of this fire when he came late into the grass to duck a three-ball in the same over, the ball lobbing at mid-on. It was a huge blow to Ireland’s ambitions to disrupt India. It’s a ringing nod to Prasith’s rhythm and form since returning from injury.
Prasith’s rest of the evening on the field wasn’t as sensational as his opening burst, but it was enough to tick off a box full of markers the selectors and team management were looking for. Prasith picked up the pace effortlessly in his second over, hitting more than 140 consecutive clicks, and narrowly missed out on a third wicket when Andy Palbirni’s short-arm jab at extra cover caught Ruduraj Gaekwat.
Palbirnie and Mark Adair then took up the challenge by muscled Prasith over the ropes for three sixes in his third and fourth overs – the 15th and 19th of the innings respectively. Prasith took 2 for 29 from his four overs and to go with his two scalps from Friday, he must have been satisfied overall.
Bumrah, the other key piece of India’s fast bowling jigsaw, had a mellow outing. But there were glimpses of his talent on his very first delivery, when he hit Palbirnie with a ripper that went ever-so-slightly away from a feeble forward push. In the same over, there was also a sinister motive. Even though it went away for five wides, it kept the batsmen honest and they knew he was swinging it both ways.
Bumrah mixed these variations with a mean bouncer, slow length balls then swinging for the hills and toe-crushers scrambling the batters. More importantly, Bumrah, as he had said before the series, did not look like he would back down at any stage. He spoke along the same lines in the post-match presentation today, saying he won’t let the huge expectations around him get to him.
„Feeling good. Today I can run up and bowl a bit faster,” Bumrah said. „If you play with the baggage of expectation, you’re going to get pressured, and you have to put those expectations aside. If you play with too many expectations, you’re not doing yourself 100% justice. You have to learn to manage. And put expectations aside.
„Glad to be back, couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Bumrah’s first strike came in the 17th over when Ireland needed 62 off 24. The main place for the batsmen to go after bowling, but he scored just four runs in the over, but he didn’t concede a boundary. He didn’t concede one all day, in fact, he ended the game with one particular final over, a dipping slower ball that Josh Little wrapped up a wicket maiden, 4-1-15-2. in the bag. The smile that came at the end was the smile of a satisfied man who knew he was back where he belonged, even with four bags.
Shashank Kishore is Senior Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo
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