Bumrah, Siraj and Shami: A bowling performance for the ages from India’s pace trio


First it was Bumrah.

With India defending 357/8, Bumrah set the tone right from the start of the second innings, as he so often does.

His opening delivery was the near-perfect ball to an opener first up: fast, swinging, and arrowing in toward those pads.

Most batters in the tournament would have been in trouble against a delivery like that, and so was Pathum Nissanka.

Then came Siraj.

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Pressure was beginning to build on the 29-year-old; would he be the player to make way if Hardik Pandya recovers from injury?

But Siraj found top gear at precisely the right moment to silence those questions, albeit maybe only temporarily. And it was another peach of an inswinger, right on the money first up, to send Dimuth Karunaratne packing.

And four balls later he was at it again, moving slightly wider at the crease and luring Sadeera Samarawickrama into an unwise dart that he could only edge behind.

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India's pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were at their very best with the new ball, reducing Sri Lanka to 3/4 in the first 19 balls of the second innings.

Siraj was back among the wickets at the start of his second over, with arguably the delivery of the match, angled in and straightening late to take Kusal Mendis’ off stump.

Such was the quality of the opening pair that it looked for a short while that India wouldn’t even need to use their change bowlers, with Sri Lanka falling to 4/7 and the threat of a wicket almost every ball.

But then came Shami.

A look at Shami’s World Cup numbers, and the fact he is the third choice with that new ball, shows that the quality of this Indian bowling attack is a real outlier.

Shami has taken 14 wickets for just 94 runs in his three appearances at the tournament. That’s an average of 6.71. The next-best average in the tournament – that of his teammate Bumrah – is more than twice as much (14.60).

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Shami was ruthless, ending any hope Sri Lanka had of restoring pride. First went Charith Asalanka, then Dushan Hemantha, before Dushmantha Chameera, Angelo Mathews and Kusan Rajitha gave Shami his five-for.

Even the spinners got involved.

India barely needed their tweakers, but with the game won and the fast bowlers put on ice, up stepped Kuldeep Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja.

Kuldeep went for just three runs from his two overs, while Jadeja needed just four deliveries to wrap up the innings, having Dilshan Madushanka caught top-edging into the deep.

Under fire from the tournament’s best display of pace bowling so far, Sri Lanka had crumbled to 55 all out. And it could have been even worse, with number nine Maheesh Theekshana (12*) and Kasun Rajitha (14) clinging on for almost half of those runs.

“I felt that today's performance was surreal, especially by the bowlers,” India’s Shreyas Iyer said after the game.

“The way they stood up to the occasion. And once we got those two-three wickets, we just capitalised on that.”

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And India’s captain was almost lost for words by the quality of his bowlers on the day.

“It was a good challenge for us to bat and put runs on the board,” Rohit Sharma said. “That’s the kind of template you’ve got to have when you want to score that many runs – 350 on any pitch is a very good score.

“A lot of credit to the batting unit for taking us to that total, and then seamers, obviously…” he finished with a smile and a shrug.

“Siraj obviously, again a quality bowler for us. If he does that, things look quite different for us. With the new ball he can swing the ball, get it to come back in, he’s got a lot of skills when he’s operating with the new ball.

“I know when things are going your way it’s pretty pleasing to see. To put in a performance like that back-to-back, one against England and one now, shows the quality of the seamers.

“Obviously if there is something in the conditions they have so much skill, with the seam upright, swinging the ball, so all-in-all it was very pleasing to watch and I hope they continue to do that way.”

With India now confirmed for a top-four finish, their future semi-final opponents will be praying that the pace trio fail to continue to bowl that way.

India vs Sri Lanka - LeagueMohammed Siraj 03/13/1994IndiaMohammed Shami 09/03/1990Jasprit Bumrah 12/06/1993ICC Cricket World Cup, 2023Cricket World CupMen's News