'I bounced the idea off Virat Kohli and told the selectors': Ravi Shastri on how Jasprit Bumrah became a Test cricketer
- Shastri was ready to put his money on Bumrah being an all-formant bowler so much that he even told captain Virat Kohli and the selectors not to reveal him before the South Africa tour in 2018.
When Jasprit Bumrah burst onto the scene in the IPL playing for Mumbai Indians in 2013, very few believed he could make it big at the international level. Those who did were only vouching for Bumrah's white-ball skills. There was hardly anyone willing to put their weight behind Bumrah the Test cricketer. Apart from India head coach Ravi Shastri that is. Shastri was ready to put his money on Bumrah being an all-formant bowler so much that he even told captain Virat Kohli and the selectors not to reveal him before the South Africa tour in 2018.
After making his ODI and T20I debuts in Australia in 2016, Bumrah quickly built a reputation of being a bankable seam bowler.
It was Shastri who insisted not to 'unleash' Bumrah on Indian pitches in Test cricket.
“No one believed Jasprit Bumrah could play Test cricket. He was a white-ball bowler. But when I took over as coach I asked myself: ‘How do I take 20 wickets overseas?’
“I knew I needed four great fast bowlers because I had played so much Test cricket against the West Indies. It started in South Africa in 2018 and we lost that fantastic series 2-1. I wanted to unleash Bumrah in that first Test in Cape Town. I bounced the idea off Virat months before and told the selectors: ‘Do not unleash him in India. I don’t want the world to see him in Test cricket before Cape Town.’ That was three years ago. Since then he’s taken 101 wickets [in 24 Tests]. It’s remarkable,” Shastri told The Guardian.
Bumrah was an instant success in his first Test in Cape Town. His delivery to AB de Villiers that found the gap between his bat and pad had a stamp of class. Since then, the right-arm seamer has never looked back.
In his three years at the Test level, Bumrah has proved Shastri right and all his doubters wrong. During the recent Test series in England, he was India's most impressive seamer and even went on to become the fastest Indian pace bowler to reach 100 Test wickets.
Bumrah, who will ply his trade for the Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021 resuming on Sunday at the UAE, had major roles to play in India's historic back-to-back Test series wins in Australia in 2018-19 and then in 2020-21.
When asked about the outcome of the England series which is still undecided as the fifth Test was cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns in the Indian camp, Shastri said, India had the upper hand in the series.
“I think so because you are playing overseas and you’re ahead with one game to go. Look at the first Test [India were 52 for one and chasing 209 when rain ruined the final day]. We would have knocked off those runs, definitely. It could have easily been 3-1. Then no-one would have cared for the last Test,” he added.