The world had eagerly anticipated the showdown between Babar Azam and Jasprit Bumrah. Their last encounter prior to the Asia Cup had taken place during the 2021 T20 World Cup. On that occasion, there was only one victor, as the Babar-led Pakistan team trounced India by 10 wickets, ending India’s unbeaten World Cup streak against Pakistan. Since then, a considerable amount of time has passed. In the past year, India and Pakistan have squared off three times, but the long-awaited face-off between Babar and Bumrah had to be postponed due to the Indian pacer’s injury. However, after several months away from the action, Bumrah has returned, and in all likelihood, was itching to have a crack at the Pakistan captain.
Unfortunately, last weekend’s India vs Pakistan Group A match ended in a washout, delaying this contest once again. Bumrah and Babar had contrasting starts to the Asia Cup. While the Pakistan captain notched a century against Nepal, Bumrah hadn’t bowled a single over in the tournament for India until Monday (September 11). But when he finally did, it was a sight to behold. It was almost as if the Bumrah of old was back, as Pakistan struggled to find an answer to his impeccable line, length, and pace.
The moment finally arrived on Monday, the reserve day of the India vs Pakistan Super 4 clash after rain had washed away Sunday’s play. However, just before the battle could commence, a statistic displayed by the host broadcaster STAR left Wasim Akram irritated. India had posted a massive 356/2 while batting first, and during the innings break, Akram, along with Ravi Shastri, was part of the mid-innings show. During this show, STAR organized a poll asking viewers to choose between Bumrah and Babar. However, when the results overwhelmingly favoured the Indian pacer, Akram found it hard to accept and voiced his displeasure.
VIDEO: Wasim Akram can’t believe poll on Babar Azam vs Jasprit Bumrah
“You guys are making these stats up. What? Babar is the No. 1 batter in the world. I mean, come on guys. Give him a little appreciation. Make it 3 percent at least. It will be a great battle. One of the top bowlers in world cricket against the No. 1 batter in the world, who apparently has just 2 percent chance against him,” Akram said.
Bumrah’s reply to Akram
Akram’s prediction quickly backfired as Bumrah dominated Babar during their brief encounter. Bumrah sent down 13 deliveries to Babar, with 11 of them resulting in dot balls and only conceding 4 runs. The first ball he bowled was clocked in at nearly 140 kilometers per hour, a menacing inswinger that struck Babar on the pads. He followed it up with an almost unplayable delivery, beating the Pakistan captain outside off stump. Bumrah expertly mixed up his inswingers and outswingers, momentarily making Babar appear anything but the world’s No. 1-ranked ODI batsman.
Bumrah had Babar baffled with a back-of-a-length delivery and a fuller swinging ball. The only time Bumrah made a mistake against Babar was with a wide back-of-a-length delivery, and the Pakistan captain cashed in by punching it through the off side for a four. However, off the very next ball, Bumrah adjusted his length and continued to hustle.