"Jasprit Bumrah was special"…these were the words legendary cricketer Sachin Tendulkar used while praising the young pacer who demolished the South African top-order in India's opening game of the ongoing World Cup at the Ageas Bowl on Wednesday.
While Rohit Sharma was adjudged the Player of the Match for his unbeaten 122 to guide India to a six-wicket win over Proteas, it was Bumrah who set the tone for Team India with two strikes at the top of the innings to derail the Proteas essay from the word goes.
While heaping praise on the Indian bowling attack, Tendulkar singled out Bumrah and said: "I would like to single out Bumrah here, for the start that he gave was incredible. He generated that pace and the bounce he got off the pitch was something special. He created that pressure on the batsmen, who were not able to rotate the strike."
Opening the bowling, his first over was a beauty – inducing false shots from South Africa opener Quinton de Kock on three occasions.
And it only got better as some extra bounce meant that the second ball of his second overtook Hashim Amla's outside edge and Rohit took a rather easy catch in the slip cordon.
The penultimate ball of his third over appeared to be too good for de Kock, as the southpaw went for a rash short off a full delivery. The ball took the edge which carried safely to Kohli at third slip, leaving South Africa in trouble with 24/2. Interestingly Kohli told Bumrah how he felt the pain in the hand for a good 10 minutes after taking the catch, clearly showing that the bowler was going full throttle.
His first three overs put the Proteas in disarray but perhaps most impressive was the caliber of wickets taken – while Amla is a man with more than 18,000 runs, de Kock is the fourth-ranked batsman in ODI cricket and also boasted of an average of 96.40 against India heading into the game.
Bumrah, playing his 50th ODI, delivered on the biggest stage and figures of 2/35 by the end of his ten overs perfectly illustrated the lethal weapon he has become for Team India in all the three formats of the game.
Even captain Kohli was in awe for Bumrah and admitted that the 25-year-old is currently "operating at a different level".
"Jasprit is operating at a different level, to be honest. The way he's bowling, the batsmen feel the pressure all the time. Not the other way round," Kohli said after the match.
"He's not giving any freebies. With the new ball, he was absolutely outstanding. I haven't seen Amla get out like that in one-day cricket. Even Quinny, he rushed him for pace," he added.
Although, his fairly short run-up – that starts with hands clasped and elbows wide – doesn't suggest he can generate express pace a quick approach in the final five steps and rapid arm rotation generates the momentum that sees him regularly break the 140 kmph-mark.
So while it may have only been his opening gambit, if Bumrah has given any indication of what is to come, then he will continue to be all smiles for a good.
If India has to be successful in the ongoing tournament and become world champions for the third time, Bumrah will have to perform like the opening game and has to be absolutely hostile and ruthless with his bowling.