Like it happens before and after India-Pakistan matches these days, one tweet has triggered a major debate.
A few hours after Pakistan’s ace fast bowler Shaheen Afridi was ruled out of the Asia Cup due to a knee injury, Pakistan pace bowling great Waqar Younis tweeted: “Shaheen’s injury big relief for Indian top order batsmen. Sad we won’t be seeing him.”
Shaheen’s injury Big relief for the Indian top order batsmen. Sad we won’t be seeing him in #AsiaCup2022 Get fit so… https://t.co/2CFSmwjvEX
— Waqar Younis (@waqyounis99) 1661006657000
Waqar’s tweet has set off an argument between cricket fans on both sides of the border, with many former India cricketers saying that Pakistan too would be equally relieved to not see the face of Jasprit Bumrah, arguably the No. 1 pace bowler in world cricket.
Former India all-rounder Irfan Pathan, in fact, quipped that Pakistan and other teams in Asia Cup would be relieved to see the absence of both Bumrah and seamer Harshal Patel, who has umpteen variations up his sleeve. “It’s a relief for other teams that Bumrah and Harshal aren’t playing this Asia Cup,” tweeted Pathan.
It’s a relief of other teams that Bumrah and Harshal aren’t playing this Asia cup!
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) 1661073524000
Younis was obviously referring to the tall left-arm pacer’s sensational spell in last year’s T20 World Cup in Dubai, where Sunday’s match will take place, when Afridi took 3/31, including a spell which saw him dislodge India’s opening pair of Rohit Sharma, LBW for a golden duck, and KL Rahul, bowled for three, with unplayable, inswinging deliveries.
Afridi’s opening blows demolished India’s hopes of making a good total in that game. The 22-year-old once again exposed India’s vulnerability to left-arm pace bowling, particularly when they are new at the crease. In comparison, Bumrah, bowling one change, had 0-22 in 3 overs to show as Pakistan romped home to their first 10-wicket win over India in any format.
However, to say that the top-class quick would have had a similar impact this time would be slight exaggeration. It was at the same Dubai venue in 2018 when Rohit and his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan took Afridi to the cleaners, taking 42 off his six overs as he went wicketless. The T20 WC game was the only occasion when Afridi has bowled to India in a T20I game, so the sample size to label him ‘India’s nemesis’ is too small. Similarly, since he’s bowled to India’s batsmen in just one ODI, where he was punished, it would be futile to say India know how to play him well.
India’s history at Asia Cup
To have an idea of how deadly Bumrah can be at his best, Younis, who was famous for his toe-crushing yorkers, must see the footage of the Gujarat pacer’s devastating haul of 6-19 against England at the Oval against England in an ODI in July this year.
Yes, the ball was seaming and swinging, but Bumrah’s first spell that morning, which read 5-2-9-4, was as good as any seen you will see in ODIs. Strangely, even Bumrah, for all his exploits, doesn’t boast of a great record against Pakistan. In 3 matches, he’s taken just 2 wickets while conceding 62 in 10 overs. For a career ODI average of 24. 30, Bumrah’s average against Pakistan shoots up to 48. 75: just 4 wickets in 5 games.
How India and Pakistan have fared at the Asia Cup
However, the number of matches he’s played against Pakistan is nothing compared to the amount of ODIs he’s played against Australia (17), South Africa (11), New Zealand (11) and Sri Lanka (10).