Bumrah and Hardik Script Stunning Comeback to Lead India to T20 World Cup Glory

Bumrah and Hardik Script Stunning Comeback to Lead India to T20 World Cup Glory

Suryakumar Yadav snatched a boundary catch for the ages, Jasprit Bumrah snuck in two electric final overs, and Hardik Pandya pilfered the two big wickets as India pulled off one of their great heists to win a World Cup, finally.

South Africa needed 30 off 30 balls with six wickets in hand, to win their maiden World Cup title, and then India fought back. India 176 for 7 (Kohli 76, Axar 47, Maharaj 2-23, Nortje 2-26) vs South Africa 169 for 8 (Klaasen 52, Bumrah 2-18, Arshdeep 2-20, Hardik 3-20) by seven runs

With five overs to go, South Africa were rampant. Heinrich Klaasen, one of the great hitters in the game, threatening to throw off decades of painful big-match history for his team with a hail of sixes. He and David Miller had clubbed 38 runs off the two previous overs, and with six wickets in hand South Africa needed only a run-a-ball off the last 30 balls.

Rohit Sharma was forced to go to the best bowler in the world, when he would have otherwise saved Bumrah for later overs. Bumrah didn't quite break the partnership, the batters never daring to take him on. But he did break Klaasen and Miller's stride. They scrambled only four runs off that over.

But the most telling blow, came at the start of the 17th over. After the flow of the game was further slowed due to an apparent knee complaint for Rishabh Pant, Hardik bowled a wide line outside off and took the edge of Klaasen, Pant snaffling the chance gleefully.

Still, Miller was there, though he couldn't get a boundary away off the rest of that over.

Then Bumrah came back, bowled several ripsnorters in the last over of yet another tournament he has dominated. With one of those magic balls, a wicked in-seamer, he burst through the defenses of the last recognised South Africa batter, Marco Jansen, and grazed leg stump.

With Keshav Maharaj now in the middle, their batting line-up notably short, and 20 needed off 12 balls, South Africa were for the first time since the early overs of the chase in trouble. Arshdeep Singh delivered a nerveless 19th over, off which South Africa could muster only four.

The dream-killing blow came next. With 16 needed off the final over, bowled by Hardik. Miller tried to lift the first ball, a wide full toss, over the straight boundary. But he didn't connect

perfectly, and Suryakumar, running full tilt along the rope, his feet only centimetres inside, caught the ball, popped it up as he briefly stepped over the boundary, then completed the running catch as he hopped back into the field, sparking wild jubilation in the stands, and ecstatic celebrations from the India players.

South Africa batters No. 8, 9, and 10, did not manage to get Hardik away, aside from a single outside edge that flew for four.

When Hardik India completed the seven-run win, the bowler sank to his knees in relief, his team-mates exulted, and the crowd, largely supporting India, flew into euphoria. Their team had become World Champions again, after 13 years.

Bumrah's spectacular finals showing
On a flat track in Barbados, Bumrah bowled two unplayable deliveries that brought him two wickets - both bowled. The first of these was the better one. It was one of the best in the tournament, and very arguably one of the best ever in finals. Angled in to Reeza Hendricks, it pitched and seamed away to hit the top of off, beating the batter's outside edge.

He conceded five runs in that first over, eight runs in the next (one of only two boundaries off his bowling came here - a not fully-controlled steer through deep third).

But those last two overs went some distance to defining this match. Four runs off the 16th over, after the 15th had been clubbed for 24 runs. Two runs off the 17th. His figures were 2 for 18.

Arshdeep plays his role
Arshdeep Singh was almost as outstanding, returning 2 for 20. His two powerplay overs cost only eight, and brought the important wicket of Aiden Markram, who edged him behind. In the middle overs, he dismissed Quinton de Kock, who was looking to raise the tempo after he had overseen the recover after two early blows.

And then that fantastic 19th over, in which he bowled two balls to Miller but conceded only three off them, otherwise keeping Maharaj on strike. This, after India's spinners had leaked 106 off their nine collective overs.

Klaasen makes a six-filled charge
One of the best hits of the tournament was Klaasen crashing a wide, Kuldeep Yadav googly way over the cover boundary for six, with minimal foot movement. That was his third six (he'd banged Hardik and Ravindra Jadeja over the rope earlier).

But it was against Axar Patel that he really thumped South Africa into the ascendancy. First ball of the 15th over, he bullied down the ground off the back foot for four. Axar bowled two wides in fear. Then later, two massive hits down the ground - one of which pounded the roof of the stadium, then a four through wide long-off for good measure.

He completed his fifty off 23 balls, the fastest ever in a T20 World Cup final. After he was dismissed, South Africa could not manage a single intentional boundary, the only four coming off Kagiso Rabada's outside edge.

Kohli drops anchor
The headlines will say Virat Kohli top scored with 76 off 59, but there were times when this knock was laboured.

Between the fourth and 18th over, Kohli faced 35 balls in which he scored 29 and hit no boundaries. When he got to fifty, he had used up 48 deliveries, and didn't raise his bat, having batted for most of that time in ODI middle-overs mode. There was an obvious critique to make here: was this an innings so unambitious, it was actually doing India harm?

But the counter-argument is strong. Kohli had been 22 off 16 when the third wicket (Suryakumar Yadav) went down, in the fifth over. And the security he gave at one end, allowed Axar (pushed up the order No. 5) and Shivam Dube to prosper with their big-hitting.

His stands with those batters reaped 72 off 54 (Axar hit 47 off 31) and 57 off 33 (Dube hit 22 off 13), and formed the heft of India's innings. Their 176 for 7 was the most any team has scored in a World Cup final.

Did South Africa choke?
For 35 overs of this game, you could not have possibly arrived at that conclusion. They were pumped up in the early overs, when Keshav Maharaj struck twice, and Rabada removed Suryakumar - India's most-dangerous batter. They held their catches and were excellent in the outfield.

They overcame losing early wickets nicely too. But at one point, they needed 26 off 24 balls, had six wickets in hand, and only one over of Bumrah left to face. They tried to target Hardik, which was the smart play in that situation, but lost both their key batters to him.

There are simpler explanations too: India were battle-hardened and skilful; South Africa's batting line-up was short.

Source: www.espncricinfo.com
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