India Revel in Prasidh Krishna’s Fire and Jasprit Bumrah’s Ice
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India Revel in Prasidh Krishna’s Fire and Jasprit Bumrah’s Ice

In today’s day and age of myriad sponsor awards, one for the smoothest bowling action seems to be an obvious miss. If one were to be instituted, Prasidh Krishna will be a front-runner to snap it up. Like he is for a spot in India’s Asia Cup squad which will be announced on Monday in New Delhi, a squad which will in all likelihood also be India’s World Cup squad.

After making a whirring first impression on Friday upon return after a year out, injury-ravaged, repaired and realigned Prasidh was back at it again on Sunday, with the old vigour and verve. His 2 for 32 in the series opener served as a perfect prelude to the chin music he inflicted on a better batting deck and under sunny skies today. He was generating pace, getting balls to rear up awkwardly and catching batters on the hop, all without seemingly making it look like he was huffing in.

Unlike Jasprit Bumrah, who builds momentum only in his final few strides before delivery, Prasidh is like a steam engine who chugs in, almost robot-like, before he eases into a silky-smooth load up and release. It’s sleek, a neatly contained force that must make batters feel like he’s been warming up for hours elsewhere before coming on.

Paul Stirling must have definitely felt that way when he was snuffed out by a ripper. Imagine knowing what’s coming and what you want to do and yet being unable to have any control over what ensues. That’s how Stirling must have felt when he was all tangled up and beaten for pace as a meek top-edged pull landed in Arshdeep Singh’s hands at fine leg.

It was a shoulder-high short-ball that Stirling made the mistake of trying to fetch from outside off. A split-second’s indecision set Ireland back early in a tall chase. Their powerplay enforcer, their most-accomplished batter, among the most experienced across both XIs, was taken out for a four-ball duck.

Lorcan Tucker, who replaced Stirling, also got an early taste of this fire when he was late on the pull, the ball lobbing off the splice to mid-on for a three-ball duck in the same over. It was a giant blow to Ireland’s aspirations of upsetting India. It was also a ringing endorsement of Prasidh’s rhythm and form upon return from injury.

The rest of Prasidh’s evening on the field wasn’t quite as thrilling as his opening burst, but there was enough to tick off a box full of markers the selectors and team management would’ve been looking for. Prasidh effortlessly cranked up pace in his second over, hitting upwards of 140 clicks regularly, and also narrowly missed out on a third wicket when Andy Balbirnie’s attempted short-arm jab eluded Ruturaj Gaikwad at extra cover.

Balbirnie and Mark Adair would later take the challenge to Prasidh by muscling him over the ropes for three sixes between them in his third and fourth overs – the 15th and 19th of the innings respectively – but by then the asking rate had already spiralled beyond reach. Prasidh finished with 2 for 29 from his four overs and, to go with his two scalps from Friday, he must have been satisfied overall.

The other key piece in India’s fast-bowling jigsaw, Bumrah, had a mellower outing. But there were shades of his mastery in his very first delivery when he beat Balbirnie with a ripper that angled in and deviated ever-so-slightly to whizz past a feeble forward push. In the same over, there was also wicked inward movement. Even though it drifted away for five wides, it kept the batters honest, in that they knew he was whizzing it both ways.

Bumrah mixed these variations with a mean bouncer, slower length balls later on with batters swinging for the hills, and toe-crushers that had batters scrambling. Most importantly, Bumrah walked the talk, in that, like he had said ahead of the series, at no stage did it appear like he was holding back. And he spoke on the same lines at the post-match presentation today, saying he would not let the immense expectations all around get to him.

“Feeling good. Today, I could run in and bowl a little faster,” Bumrah said. “If you play with the baggage of expectation, you are going to be under pressure. You have to keep those expectations aside. You are not doing yourself 100% justice if you are playing with so many expectations. You have to learn to manage the expectations and keep it on the side.

“Happy to be back and couldn’t have asked for anything more.”

Bumrah’s first strike came in the 17th over, which began with Ireland needing 62 off 24. Prime territory for the batters to go after the bowling you’d think, but he went for just four runs in the over, not a boundary conceded. He did not concede one all day, in fact, and he closed out the game with a particularly mean final over that ended with a dipping slower ball that beat Josh Little to wrap up a wicket maiden, figures of 4-1-15-2 in the bag. The smile at the end, four byes notwithstanding, was that of a content man who knows he’s back to where he belongs.

Source : ESPN Cric Info