Yes, it was Yuzvendra Chahal who took four wickets, and of course, Rohit Sharma was the guiding light who led India to victory in what proved to be a nervy run-chase. But it was Jasprit Bumrah who stamped his side’s mark on the tournament with a thrilling new-ball spell to kickstart the day.
Bhuvneshawar Kumar took the first over but the oohs and aahs of the crowd only emerged when Bumrah had the ball in his hand, consistently beating Quinton de Kock’s bat. Few have faster hands in world cricket, but on a pitch offering bounce and a bit of nip, getting bat on ball seemed an almighty task for De Kock.
Hashim Amla, back for South Africa after being rested for the loss against Bangladesh, offered a sigh of relief for the Proteas as Bhuvneshwar was carved for four between point and cover. But while Bumrah’s first over preyed on De Kock, Amla was his first victim, arriving in the quick’s second set of six. The right-hander managed to get a feel for the ball – an impressive task in himself. Unfortunately for the South African great, it was an edge that flew to Rohit in the slip cordon.
Strangely enough, as India formed a huddle to celebrate their opening wicket of the day, Bumrah returned to his mark in lonesome fashion rather prematurely, almost as if to say that this was just the beginning.
Faf du Plessis arrived and immediately got off the mark with four; it wasn’t a mark against Bumrah however, rather another win as an inside-edge flew to the fine-leg boundary.
While the skipper survived, the man who more than often steers the South African ship through an innings is De Kock. His half-century against England was him at his fluent best and more runs would have arrived against Bangladesh if not for a horrendous mix-up between the wickets with Aiden Markram.
Nonetheless, today, one of the world’s best simply couldn’t handle Bumrah. Pitching on a good length, De Kock flashed his bat expansively. As soon as he nicked behind, his head dropped, recognition that he’d been done for by the brilliant Bumrah. India's fast-bowling talisman went on to finish the day with figures of 2/35 from his 10 overs.
Speaking after the game, India’s leader, Virat Kohli, highlighted the level at which the world’s best ODI bowler is currently operating at.
“The way he's bowling right now, it's so, so good to see because when you see batsmen literally clueless against him and he's rushing people.
“To be honest, I haven't seen Hashim get out like that in one-day cricket. He's been so dominant. He might play shots and get out, but to get guys out like that, rushing them a bit, I think it's a great thing and it's a testimony to his hard work.
“He doesn't care who is standing in front of him. He will bounce people, he will try to get people bowled, he will york people with the new ball and that's the reason for his consistency.”
Believe it or not, this was Bumrah’s World Cup debut. It’s perfect timing for a bowler who seems to have the world at his feet.
By Taha Hashim