‘Enough’ runs from Virat Kohli for India, Jasprit Bumrah the ventriloquist, South Africa’s theoretical snowball + more from the T20 World Cup final

4 minute read

Don’t know if you saw, but India beat South African in the T20 World Cup final at the weekend.

Numb Virat Kohli makes ‘enough’ runs

T20 strategy is shaped by statistics, but if there’s one thing they don’t measure too well, it’s the likelihood a player’s entire muscle memory will be momentarily wiped when a truly big game is in the balance.

Hardik Pandya could afford to concede two fours off his last two balls and India would have still won the T20 World Cup final. Hardik told himself to keep it outside off stump and duly boomed a wide.

Playing World Cup finals is hard.

Writing after the semi-finals, we suggested that Virat Kohli was ‘due’. We didn’t really mean that because we don’t believe in ‘dueness’ but we also weren’t at all surprised that he was able to cobble together a score in a big game.

Kohli has played a lot of big games. At a certain point his status became such that pretty much every game became big. Maybe not World Cup final big, but big enough that he has developed a very high base tolerance for both external and internal expectations.

What this means is that when the score reads 34-3 in a World Cup final, he doesn’t suffer any of that low grade paralysis that so often afflicts players in these matches. He just plays normally and when other people are feeling the heat, playing normally can be pretty handy.

Kohli made 76 off 59 balls, which was really a no-more-than-adequate contribution on that pitch. For quite a lot of his innings, he didn’t even try to hit boundaries.

The thing is, if your bowling attack is better than average, an average sort of score will prove sufficient more often than not.

Jasprit Bumrah, ventriloquist

We know no-one puts much store in Player of the Match awards, but can we please just highlight the extraordinary nonsense of this one (Kohli).

Jasprit Bumrah took 2-18 off four overs in a match in which both teams made scores of around 170. He bowled those overs when it mattered the most and hauled the game from Mariana Trench depths late on.

South Africa had scored 48 runs in the five overs before Bumrah came back for his third over. The previous one alone had gone for 24. Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller – two of the surest hitters in world cricket – were at the crease. Klaasen was on 49 off 22 balls. Miller was on 14 off 7 balls.

Bumrah conceded four runs and honestly just scared them throughout. According to Ravi Shastri, he was, “literally making the ball talk”.

If we’d been one of the two batters, we’d have struggled to avoid ruminating on that over for the entire time Rishabh Pant was getting treatment immediately afterwards. There’s every chance our heart-rate would have risen with every additional second of inactivity. A wicket next ball didn’t feel too big a surprise.

Bumrah’s next over – one wicket, two runs – was on paper better still. But it was the first one that made the difference. It was the kind of contribution you can only make having already built a reputation over the preceding weeks and years.

Plenty of players can bowl a great over. Not everyone can convince you they’re absolutely 100% guaranteed to do so.

It is hard to imagine how Jasprit Bumrah could have improved on that bowling performance.

He was not Player of the Match.

> Was Jasprit Bumrah’s yorker to Ollie Pope the best since Waqar Younis?

South Africa’s theoretical snowball

This was South Africa’s first men’s World Cup final in either white-ball format. Given that they’ve always been a good side and hardly anyone actually plays cricket, that’s a staggering statistic – particularly given the sport holds a World Cup basically annually these days.

Being in a final is therefore progress. A few South Africa players will no doubt retire, but others will have gained just a little of Virat Kohli’s big game numbness. Maybe this will stand them in good stead.

Aiden Markram is in a position to feel that. He reckons that if South Africa finally win a World Cup, there’ll be “a snowball effect of quite a few to come.”

Sneaky old South Africa, stockpiling World Cup wins all these years. Watch out, everyone! They’re due!

What’s next?

Test cricket.

It’s been a great tournament – one of the best we can remember – but we’re ready for a change of format now. Please stick with us by signing up for our email.

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