For India, light has come at the end of the tunnel. It might be a little too late Down Under but the signs have been positive for the men in blue.
MS Dhoni’s consistent tinkering with the third seamer has finally yielded dividends after debutant Jasprit Bumrah, who replaced Bhuvneshwar Kumar at Sydney, returned as India’s best bowler with figures of 2/40. And that too on a day when Australia scored 330, and India’s top two pacers– Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav – were milked for runs. For once, Dhoni would be expecting a pat on his back.
Bumrah, who had made the cut replacing the injured Mohammad Shami, had reached Australia on the back of some power packed performances in both Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophies. He powered Gujarat with his fifer against Delhi in the Vijay Hazare final and continued his form in the T20 tournament as well. He had 21 wickets in the one-day format and a further 14 in the T20. These figures are reflective of Bumrah’s ability.
Undoubtedly, his unusual and strange bowling action gives him an advantage as the batsman would pick him a little late. But on top of that, his control and accuracy were the strong points. Throughout the series, India lacked a bowler who could bowl yorkers at will during the death. Bhuvneshwar off late has seemed to have lost the ability to do the same but Bumrah’s performance on Saturday certainly gives India a lot of hope. His yorker that castled James Faulkner must have led a lot of Indian fans to his social media accounts.
After the Australian innings, India’s World Cup wining captain and all-rounder Kapil Dev praised Bumrah for his accuracy.
“He has been very accurate with his line against the Australians on such a placid track. His action makes him a difficult bowler to pick and it gives him an advantage with his pace as well. I am happy because he can bowl yorkers at will and such a bowler will always be a handy asset. He has showed that if you bowl in line with control, you can enjoy success,” said Dev during the mid innings show.
Bumrah falls in the league of pacers such as Sri Lanka’s Lasith Malinga and West Indies’ Colin Croft, who with unusual actions enjoyed a lot of success in international cricket. Bumrah could be one among them. Bumrah’s IPL stints with Mumbai Indians also had games where he played vital roles by getting rid of important batsmen and turning the tide in his team’s favour.
At Sydney though, where every other pacer was plundered by centurion David Warner, the Gujarat pacer made sure he forced the Aussie opener to work hard for his runs. Being a natural inswinger, he kept hitting good lengths with the new ball and angled it across Warner. Bumrah’s line was so tight that Warner could only manage 14 runs in 21 balls with a strike rate of 66.66.
Bumrah also did well against right handers, including Mitchell Marsh, as his pitch map showed that he was aiming to pitch on the sixth stump outside off and his swing would shape the delivery to jag back into the right hander. The emphasis is to highlight Bumrah’s simple approach which worked against the powerful Aussies and none could flay him around the SCG.
The element of surprise also worked in favour of Bumrah as he wasn’t making it obvious for the batters unlike Yadav and Ishant. He got Steve Smith with a measured short-pitched ball, which the batsmen couldn’t control while trying the pull shot. If Bumrah continues to hold on during the T20s, he could make a case to fill in the blank for the third seamer.