Arshdeep Singh had been providing India good starts with the ball at the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup 2022. Against Pakistan, he removed Babar Azam with his first ball and conceded just five runs in that over. And against South Africa, he picked two wickets in his first three balls – Quinton de Kock and Rilee Rossouw – and gave away just four runs in that over.
His game-changing performance in against Bangladesh was a little different, though.
In the match at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday, he was caught in the Litton Das storm and was hit for three fours in his first over by the right-hander.
India had posted a formidable total thanks to half-centuries by KL Rahul and Virat Kohli. A target of 185 in windy conditions was expected to be challenging for Bangladesh, but Das had other plans.
The 28-year-old went hammer and tongs from ball one and blazed away to 59 off 26. At 66 for no loss in seven overs, Bangladesh found themselves in the driver’s seat to claim victory. But that’s when the rain came in and the match went on to turn on its head.
India returned to the field with renewed energy after the break and with Bangladesh needing 85 runs to win from 54 balls with all 10 wickets in hand, they ended up winning the match by five runs.
There’s a lot that India got right after the break. R Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and Hardik Pandya bowled crucial overs, Rahul produced a moment of magic with a direct hit from the deep to send Das packing, and four out of four catches were taken.
But perhaps the most telling blow was dealt by young Arshdeep. Brought back into the attack in the 12th over, with Bangladesh needing 52 off 30 with eight wickets remaining, the left-arm pacer delivered a stunning over that proved to be decisive.
For the third time in this World Cup, Arshdeep ended up picking two wickets in one over.
First, he removed Afif Hossain as the left-hander slogged and found Suryakumar Yadav at long-on.
Then it was the turn of Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan, who had had got his eye in by the time that 12th over started. The senior pro, with his immense experience of dealing with pressure situations, held the key for his team. But he too couldn’t get the distance and was caught by Deepak Hooda in the deep.
One over, two runs, two wickets. Arshdeep had put India in firm control with Bangladesh now four down and left with 50 to get off 24.
He returned to bowl the final over of the innings and held his nerve again, despite conceding a six, to take his team over the line. India had completed another thrilling win and Arshdeep pulled out his increasingly popular aeroplane celebration.
“Arshdeep, when he came into the scene, we asked him to do the death overs job for us,” said India captain Rohit Sharma during the presentation ceremony.
“With [Jasprit] Bumrah not there, someone has to do it for us and take the responsibility. For a young guy to come and do that kind of a job is not easy, but we’ve prepared him for it. He has been doing it for the last eight-nine months.”
Shakib, in the post-match press conference, added: “He [Arshdeep] is a great prospect for India. He can swing the ball both ways, there are hardly any bowlers who can do that. I hope he will continue playing for India and do well.”
Indeed, Arshdeep is doing a crucial job for India at this World Cup. Bowling in the powerplay and at the death was one of the biggest concerns for the team heading Down Under and he has handled the responsibility with aplomb so far.
Arshdeep has a number of tricks up his sleeve, with his swing at the start and yorkers at the death becoming increasingly reliable. But perhaps what’s most comforting is his confidence and composure. He has the team’s backing and is clear in his plans, and nothing seems to faze him. For a youngster playing his first World Cup, that is an immense quality.