Cricket

Bumrah, Shami must get their act together

Job on hand: Bowling coach B. Arun needs to have a quick fix to the chinks in the armour of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.

Job on hand: Bowling coach B. Arun needs to have a quick fix to the chinks in the armour of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami.  

Both got their lengths wrong at the Basin Reserve and the pacemen’s failure let the Kiwi tail wag and accumulate precious runs

India has a bunch of world-class pacemen who have been slicing through lines-up both away and home in the last two years.

And there is intense competition for places. Not many teams would have someone of the quality of Umesh Yadav cooling the bench.

But the pace attack on view at the Basin Reserve, with the exception of Ishant Sharma, largely disappointed.

Let’s take the case of Jasprit Bumrah. He was among the key factors in India’s maiden Test series triumph in Australia last season. With his whippy and deceptive action, he was quick off the pitch, had a nasty short ball and a telling yorker.

Bumrah moved the new ball just enough to find the edge and, when the sphere became older, struck with reverse swing. His pace seldom dropped below 140 kmph even at the fag end of the day, something that impressed pace legend Glenn McGrath.

Just a shadow

Yet, the Bumrah seemed a shadow of his former self at the Basin Reserve. The nip off the track was missing.

Bumrah had spent a long period in the sidelines tending to a rather serious injury, stress fracture of the lower back.

He did not undergo surgery and when he came back, he was drafted into the shorter formats. Except for the game at Mount Maunganui, where he scalped three, Bumrah had a lacklustre T20I series in New Zealand.

And in the ODI series, he conceded 50 or more runs in each of the three games without picking a wicket. The alarm bells were ringing.

 

In the first Test at the Basin Reserve, one got the impression that Bumrah was not letting it rip; perhaps the back injury was playing on his mind.

There were times when Bumrah appeared pedestrian. The explosive release with the arm-speed was absent and the Kiwis were able to play him comfortably.

Down on speed

Bumrah appeared down on speed and was not bowling the right length for the Basin Reserve surface. The seamer pitched short of a good length when he should have, ideally, pitched the ball up.

By not pitching up and drawing the batsman into a drive, Bumrah was not giving the ball a chance to swing. And he was bowling on middle and off-stump when his line should have been off-stump or just outside it.

In fact, it was this line that fetched Bumrah his only wicket of the Test when he had B-J. Watling caught behind.

This was a Test where even the Kiwi lower order batsmen were able to pick his yorker — a major delivery in Bumrah’s arsenal — and dig it out. Bumrah was missing the extra speed that gave his bowling the cutting edge.

No reverse swing

And there was no reverse swing for him either. If someone such as Bumrah finishes with 1/88, the Indian bowling has a problem.

Mohammed Shami too had an ordinary Test, given the high benchmark he has set for himself. Like Bumrah, he, carried away by the grass, bowled the wrong length, only rarely pitching the ball up. Shami is a paceman who relies on the fluency of his run-up to generate speed. Then he uses his wrists and seam position for movement.

However, the stiff breeze at the Basin Reserve appeared to have adversely impacted the rhythm in Shami’s run-up and the rest of his bowling suffered.

India normally blows away the tail. In the first Test, the last three New Zealand wickets added 123 precious runs.

It was a massive phase of the match. The pacemen have to get their act together at Christchurch.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 12:21:09 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/bumrah-shami-must-get-their-act-together/article30925212.ece

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