Cricket

Bumrah — the evolution of a match-winner

On the prowl: Jasprit Bumrah, according to former Australia captain Michael Clarke, is well on the way to becoming the top bowler in all three formats.

On the prowl: Jasprit Bumrah, according to former Australia captain Michael Clarke, is well on the way to becoming the top bowler in all three formats.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Unleashed into the Test arena at the right time, the paceman leaves the men facing him with physical and psychological scars

In November last year, India coach Ravi Shastri and bowling coach Bharat Arun had an important decision to make. They were convinced the Jasprit Bumrah was ready for Test cricket but were waiting for the right occasion to blood him.

Would Bumrah play in the three-Test home series against Sri Lanka that preceded the campaign in South Africa? Bumrah was held back.

It was felt the pitches in South Africa, with juice in them for the pacemen, would enable Bumrah get off to a sound start in Tests. And instilling belief in the youngster was crucial.

Both Shastri and Arun realised Bumrah’s uniqueness; batsmen were picking him late. He had to be preserved for bigger battles, wrapped in cotton wool.

Well begun...

And, when Bumrah was unleashed against South Africa early January, 2018, he made an immediate impact in Cape Town. His first scalp in Tests was a big one. A.B. de Villiers attempted to drive a full length ball that came in and played on.

In the second innings, Bumrah dismissed Faf du Plessis with a vicious delivery that kicked off a length. And Quinton de Kock fell to a ball that climbed even as it nipped back sharply. Bumrah had arrived in Tests.

And now, after his conquests in the Boxing Day Test at the MCG, Bumrah has a whopping 48 wickets in nine Tests [three each in South Africa, England and Australia] at 21.02 with a strike rate of 47.4 this year.

Rare breed

No Indian bowler has taken more wickets in overseas Tests in a year. Bumrah has shaken up line-ups with his pace, bounce and variations. Down under, he has left the men facing him with physical and psychological scars, impressed the fans and captivated the Aussie media.

On the prowl: Jasprit Bumrah, according to former Australia captain Michael Clarke, is well on the way to becoming the top bowler in all three formats.

On the prowl: Jasprit Bumrah, according to former Australia captain Michael Clarke, is well on the way to becoming the top bowler in all three formats.   | Photo Credit: Michael Dodge

 

Match-winners come rare. All of Bumrah’s three five-wicket innings hauls so far have fired India to Test victories.

Former Australian batting great Michael Clarke tweeted, “In the next few months, Bumrah will be the No. 1 bowler in all three formats.”

World’s leading batsman Virat Kohli conceded, “I don’t want to be facing Bumrah.”

No Indian paceman in recent memory has made such an impact. Bumrah powers through to the crease from a rather innocuous run-up, unleashes thunderbolts.

In Tests, he has more space and time to inflict damage with his whippy, quick-arm action. The ball taking off from back of a length often strikes the batsmen on the knuckles, shoulder, chest or helmet.

And while the batsman is protecting his body, Bumrah can easily remove him with his subtlety. Velocity and craft is a dangerous combination. It’s never easy when Bumrah targets the batsmen with deliveries in the high 140s kmph. And he can also easily take the pace off the ball.

Shastri, a shrewd judge of talent, knew Bumrah’s value from the manner he was hounding batsmen with his speed and variations in white ball cricket. And Arun’s association with Bumrah — he has overseen his development at every stage — is a heartwarming tale in itself.

The technically-savvy Arun coached Bumrah in the under-19 camp at the NCA and was wise enough not to change his action, where, despite the load-up being so much far and away from the body, the arm was high and upright in release.

Coaches’ contribution

Bumrah, under Arun, gradually evolved. Work was done on his wrist position. And the coach tirelessly worked with Bumrah to find the ideal release point to send down the yorker.

Now Bumrah bowls a potent yorker at will. Arun understood Bumrah’s body, knew he had to be stronger for the longer spells in Test cricket.

Strength and conditioning coach Shankar Basu worked on Bumrah to enable him withstand Test-match loads. His rise in the longer format has been rapid.

Now Bumrah and the Indian pace pack will be going for the kill at the SCG.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 1:54:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/india-tour-of-australia-australia-vs-india-test-series-bumrah-the-evolution-of-a-match-winner/article25873221.ece

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