PARTAB RAMCHAND | 7 JULY, 2019
Starc and Bumrah The Best Death Overs Bowlers
Starc equals McGrath's mark
The toughest task for bowlers is to be in the thick of action during the death overs when the batsmen have the license to go all out. They can essay the most outrageous of innovative shots or the old fashioned slog – anything that will make the ball go into the stands. Even if he is out in the process hardly anyone will take him to task. For the bowlers though it is a different scenario. In the overs 41 to 50 they still have to maintain line and length, think of different deliveries to combat the ultra-aggressive batting, mix them up a bit and yet be careful not to send down no balls or wides.
It is a scenario in which only the best of bowlers can come up trumps and during these times minds of cricket followers veer back to the days of Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. The two W’s were absolutely unplayable in the death overs with their pace and accuracy and their ability to bowl yorkers at will mixed with well directed bouncers. Through the 90s and into the early years of the new millennium the duo gave batsmen little chance of accelerating the scoring in the final overs.
These days too there are two bowlers – playing for different teams though – who are right up there when it comes to delivering under the pressure that the death overs invariably impose. Mitchell Starc and Jasprit Bumrah are two different bowlers in their own way but when it comes to overs 41 to 50 they employ the same tactics with deadly effect. The manner in which they are able to send down yorkers interspersed with the well directed short deliveries brings back vivid memories of the two W’s at their best.
It’s not surprising to see Starc at the top of the list of wicket takers with 26 scalps at the end of the league stage in the process equaling Aussie great Glenn McGrath’s record tally for a single World Cup. The 29-year-old left arm Australian pace bowler is at the peak of his powers in all formats and his bowling is a treat for the connoisseur. He is fast and accurate with the variety that is the envy of other pace bowlers. And while there have been several instances of his running through the fast bowler’s repertoire the piece de resistance in the World Cup would still be the perfect yorker with which he bowled Ben Stokes in the game against England. After a poor start England were making a fight of it and seemed to be in with a chance as long as the star all rounder well known for his big hits was in the middle. But he had no answer to the Starc special and from then on it was smooth sailing for Australia.
Bumrah of course is ranked right at the top and came to England with a sky high reputation. It is not always easy to live up to expectations but in the case of the 25-year-old Indian fast bowler he has enhanced it during the World Cup. While the other Indian bowlers have been carted around Bumrah has been quite unplayable particularly when it matters most – in the death overs. He has picked up 17 wickets in eight games but most remarkable is his economy rate – 4.48 – is the lowest for any bowler who has ten wickets or more. Even in the high scoring game against England when all the other bowlers conceded six runs an over and more he had an economy rate of 4.4. And against Bangladesh all his four victims were bowled underlining his accuracy. In limited overs cricket the ability to keep the runs down is of paramount importance and keeping this in mind Bumrah is as priceless to the Indians as Starc is to the Australians.