India Green were on the field for almost two days. The wicket was flat and dry and had nothing to offer to the bowlers, but the real culprit for India Green’s bowling effort against India Blue in the crucial Duleep Trophy game was pacer Jasprit Bumrah. Had he not overstepped twice, the situation might have been different.
On Sunday, the first day, Bumrah trapped Mayank Agarwal on five, but it was a no-ball. The batsman cashed in to amass 161. Agarwal raised a 212-run stand with skipper Gautam Gambhir. Half the battle was won.
Then on Monday, Bumrah again overstepped bowling with the second new ball. Nightwatchman Abhimanyu Mithun mistimed a pull off a short ball to be caught, only for the TV umpire to confirm the infringement. Pujara and Mithun went on to add 68 runs. The stand proved costly for Green as Mithun saw off the new ball. Bumrah seemed to have gone for extra pace, having already bowled a couple of short deliveries.
With no movement or carry, the only chance for Green bowlers was to set specific fields and strike with the new ball. The stand helped India Blue as Dinesh Karthik came in next and raised a 108-run stand with Pujara, Bumrah dropping Karthik at mid-off for good measure.
Of late, Bumrah has been bowling a lot of no-balls. In the first T20 against West Indies at Lauderhill, Florida, the Gujarat pacer bowled two no-balls against Kieron Pollard. First, he got Pollard with a yorker but had overstepped. Pollard hit the free hit for six.
India lost that T20 by one run, and the no-ball hurt in the end. In the second match too, he bowled a no-ball to Pollard and the free-hit went for four.
Former India pacer Madan Lal said it was not a healthy sign. “It is a result of not practicing correctly in the nets. As a coach I have seen bowlers walk up to me and say that overstepping happens only in the nets. But it troubles them even more in the match as they are not able to get into the same rhythm as in the nets and struggle.”
Bumrah doesn’t swing the ball and relies a lot on pace to surprise the batsmen. His unusual high-arm action helps to a point but once he starts getting hit, he bends his back even more. Madan Lal said: “The bowlers bowl at a certain speed in the nets without realising they are overstepping. But once they overstep in the match trying to bowl quick, their speed falls as they have to bowl from behind the line.”
Bumrah’s speed before overstepping against Mithun was in the high 130s but came down to 130 after that. “When you bowl from where you are not used to, speed will come down. And for Bumrah, it is not a good sign at all,” he added.