Arshdeep Singh has continued his rise through the ranks of the Indian pace attack during the ongoing T20 World Cup in Australia.
On Sunday against South Africa, the left-arm pacer struck twice in his first over (the second of the innings) and removed the dangerous Quinton de Kock and the hard-hitting Rilee Rossouw to lay down India’s challenge while defending a modest 134.
He first swung the ball away late to induce de Kock’s outside edge, which was taken by KL Rahul at second slip. A couple of balls later, Rossouw was trapped in front trying to slog an in-coming delivery on the leg-side. Arshdeep is now the leading wicket-taker for India in the T20 World Cup, with seven wickets in three matches at an economy rate of 7.83 and average of 13.42.
However, a little over a month ago, Arshdeep was at the receiving end of online chatter after he dropped a crucial catch of Asif Ali against Pakistan in the Asia Cup. The 23-year-old showed heart and almost made amends, as he came close to successfully defending six runs off the last over, in the process redeeming himself by getting Asif lbw, before Pakistan managed a narrow five-wicket win with one ball to spare.
Cut to October 23 — the stage, India versus Pakistan T20 World Cup game — and Arshdeep silenced his critics by dismissing Babar Azam for a golden duck with his in-swinger. Ahead of the tournament, with Jasprit Bumrah injured and his replacement Mohammed Shami a sure-starter in the Playing XI, Arshdeep’s lack of raw pace and dependence on swing had the left-armer fighting for a place in the team, with Harshal Patel, who has more variety, also in the ranks. Harshal can bowl into the pitch and is seen as someone who can also contribute with the bat.
But when Arshdeep bounced the No.1-ranked T20I batter Mohammad Rizwan out for his second of three wickets against Pakistan in Melbourne, he laid all doubts about his ability to bowl in Australian conditions - which assist pace and bounce - to rest. He got Asif with a short ball at the death and ended with figures of three for 32 and restricted Pakistan to 159 for eight. Virat Kohli’s unbeaten 82 blitz took care of the rest.
Against Netherlands, Arshdeep leaked runs, conceding 37 runs in four overs. He over-pitched and missed his intended yorkers. However, he did get two wickets off two balls, which showcased his variety. He first dug in a bouncer to get Logan van Beek before firing in a yorker next ball to trap Fred Klaassen in front.
India fell to its first defeat in the T20 World Cup to South Africa on Sunday, but it will focus on the takeways. Along with Suryakumar Yadav’s fighting knock, it was Arshdeep’s two for 25 that gave the Men in Blue hope and helped stretch the contest into the final over.