Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah form the most odd pair of Team India in their T20 set up. Nehra is 37, Bumrah is just 23. Nehra has the experience of bowling in 17 Tests, 120 ODIs and 25 T20Is, while Bumrah is just finding his feet in international cricket with 11 one-dayers and 23 T20Is. They play domestic cricket and the Indian Premier League for different outfits. Yet their camaraderie when they play in India colours in the most fickle T20 format is one to vouch for. (HIGHLIGHTS)
Ever since the Australia tour last year, Nehra and Bumrah have become a force to reckon with for India in the shortest format. Their complementing skills have brought India more success than failures in T20 Internationals.
They may not have clicked together in the first T20I against England at Kanpur where the duo conceded 57 runs in 6.1 overs without a wicket. However, everything fell in place for them in Sunday’s crunch match at the VCA Stadium which India won by five runs to stay alive in the series.
Defending a lowly 145-run target, Nehra dismissed the English openers Jason Roy and Sam Billings early on and in the process gave away just seven runs off first two overs. He eventually finished with 3/28.
Bumrah once again proved his effectiveness in death overs with the two miserly overs in the end – five runs in the 18th over and two off the final over – to clinch a thriller. He ended up with 2/20.
Nehra said their different style of bowling is what makes them a special force.
“We are completely different bowlers. Every bowler has a strength. Everyone knows that Jasprit Bumrah always bowls well with the older ball, so we are completely different bowlers. Like I said, he may bowl a one-off over with the new ball whereas I at times bowl three overs up front because I know that the team wants me to strike early, especially while defending such a low total. Whether I play for India, Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers (Hyderabad), I need to pick wickets early in such games. So, I always look at picking wickets.
On the other hand, Bumrah is an excellent bowler and his speciality is bowling at death. Just like Lasith Malinga – he was an asset with the old ball. Bumrah has a slightly awkward action so a new batsman can’t really pick him easily. He has a good slower one and a yorker. So every bowler has a strength and the team has to work around it.
“I have always seen in Indian cricket a bowler being tagged as a new-ball or only a death bowler. Everyone is different. If you ask an opener to bat at No 6, he won’t really succeed. I am not saying Jasprit Bumrah can’t bowl with the new ball, he will improve over time, but his strength is bowling with the old ball. His (Bumrah) growth will be an asset in coming times for the Indian team,” said Nehra in the post-match conference.
Nehra said mental toughness is the key to success in bowling at death.
“Necessity is the mother of all (inventions). As a bowler, you know in today’s age of 50 and 20-over cricket, you have to try out new variations in death overs. Bowlers are also exploring innovative field settings to succeed. Whether it’s Bumrah or Bhuvneshwar, I keep telling them: you have to back yourself.
If you are better at the start and not so good at death, you can work harder and overcome it. If you constantly keep trying for days, weeks and months, you can at least improve marginally. And that marginal improvement can make a big difference,” said Nehra.