Exclusive| Allan Donald: No pacer will kill it in the T20 World Cup except Jasprit Bumrah

South African legend Allan Donald names Jasprit Bumrah as the top pacer for the T20 World Cup, and anticipates stellar performances from Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma. Discover his insights on the bowlers' challenges and key players in the upcoming tournament.

Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya
W. Bhattacharyy

Last Updated: 2024-05-22

Louis Hobbs

6 minutes read

Allan Donald

South Africa pace great Allan Donald ran shivers down the spine of batters in his prime. The right-arm fast bowler, known as White Lightning for his speed, appeared in four ODI World Cups and sent down thunderbolts from 1991 to 2003.

Donald, however, feels the days of speedsters dominating seasoned batters are a thing of the past. 

The 57-year-old veteran feels the upcoming T20 World Cup in the West Indies and the USA, starting June 2, will be a challenging tournament for the bowlers. "This year's IPL has highlighted pure class in terms of destruction. It has been scary [close to 1,200 sixes already]. We are going to see that in the T20 World Cup too. The batting depth of every team shows how tough it will be for the bowlers. It will come down to the nitty-gritty, who can close games, and who is the calmest under pressure," Donald told Sportsboom on Tuesday.

The importance of skills and intelligence

When asked to choose the pacer who could make a difference in the ICC event, Donald initially said, "I don't think any pacer is going to kill it. The bowlers have gone the distance in this IPL by the sheer bloody-mindedness of batters that they will take down every bowling attack no matter what," before adding: "I think Jasprit Bumrah could be different. He is outstanding."

Despite Mumbai Indians' early exit from the IPL, Bumrah picked up 20 wickets in 14 matches at a handsome economy of 6.48. "When guys have gone for 50 or 60-plus in four overs, Bumrah has shown unbelievable skills under pressure. He can make quality decisions. He is the leading fast bowler in the format because he is skillful and strong," said Donald, who appeared in 72 Tests and 164 ODIs for the Proteas.

Jasprit Bumrah
Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP via Getty Images

Apart from Bumrah, Donald praised Pat Cummins for his prowess and reasoned that spinners may have a better chance to be in the game, subject to the wickets in the United States. "Cummins was outstanding in the IPL, and Kagiso Rabada has been sort of there and about. You have to think smart and trust your skills. The spinners, who are keeping the game quiet, could be handy. It will come down to how intelligent you are. Everywhere you go, people are talking about the new mindset of batters. They are so much more aggressive. As a bowler, you stay switched on," he added.

The Rohit-Virat combination in T20Is

Donald, who had earlier coached the bowlers at Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL, backed Virat Kohli to fire in the T20 World Cup. "Kohli is the leading run-scorer in the IPL [700+ runs] and has hit more sixes [37] than anyone. He has shown his hunger and fantastic form at the moment. I am concerned with Rohit Sharma's form, but you can never take greatness out of a cricketer. Those guys will come and they will show their teeth in the World Cup."

"India has a magnificent team with youngsters like Yashasvi Jaiswal and the seniors. I guess they could have picked a few more players if you could pick 18 players (laughs)," reasoned Donald, who is the fourth-highest wicket-taker among all Proteas bowlers with 602 scalps across formats.

Predictions and underdogs

Donald feels every nation, including South Africa, flaunts a strong squad. "To predict is difficult. South Africa has a fantastic side. The omission of Rassie van der Dussen was a big one, but Tristan Stubbs has been impressive along with Heinrich Klaasen. Those two guys will put up a show. It is going to come down to finer details and good decision-making, and I hope they pull it through," he said.

The paceman, however, feels Afghanistan should not be taken lightly. "They have a good spin attack. And last year, in the ODI Cricket World Cup, they have shown they are not a team to mess with," added Donald, who was the bowling coach of Bangladesh in the last edition of the T20 World Cup in Australia.

Wriddhaayan Bhattacharyya is a cricket journalist based in India who takes a keen interest in stories that unfold on and off the field. His expertise lies in news writing, features and profiles, interviews, stats, and numbers-driven stories. He has also worked as a podcaster and talk show host on cricket-related shows on YouTube and Spotify.