India vs England: Jasprit Bumrah - from Twenty20 maverick to match-winner in Test cricket
Jasprit Bumrah’s five-wicket haul at Trent Bridge highlighted just how far the bowler has evolved from being perceived as Twenty20 specialist to becoming a genuine game-changer in Test cricket.cricket Updated: Aug 23, 2018 11:17 IST
Is there anything as riveting as life, anything as uncertain as the vagaries which keep tumbling out every day we wake up?
Test cricket, in so many ways, is an extrapolation of life, it is so similar to our existence, the constant grapple to wrestle with the mysteries and achieve a sense of parity. We keep heading in the blank, we keep walking out bemused.
Back in 2013, Jasprit Bumrah was plucked by the Mumbai Indians and he trundled in to bowl to Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers. The first ball was dispatched away to the fence. Ahh that action: stiff arms flayed all over the place. On the second ball he pins Virat Kohli bang in front of the stumps.
A journey had begun, another T20 commodity was creating waves; he was under the tutelage of Lasith Malinga, he had the slingy action, he had the searing yorker, a mean bumper and a plethora of slower deliveries.
All this landed him an India debut in ODIs, in T20Is and then eventually Test matches. Yes, now sit up and take notice: from the mercurial IPL bowler, he was now jogging in whites.
Test debut in South Africa, 14 wickets across three Test matches, and he gave enough indications about his prowess.
India hopped over to the United Kingdom, they played T20Is against Ireland and injured his thumb on the first day of India’s tour in Malahide. Subsequently, he was ruled out from the ODIs and then missed the first two Tests.
There is something extremely measured about Bumrah, he knows his game, he is confident about his craft and he continues to works on it. India knew they had lost a match-winner even before they landed in England, and yes, that match-winner turned up on day 4 and won them the match.
“You have to work for it. We work hard. That hard work makes you successful on days like these. The hard work we do away from the camera is what bears results on days like these,” Bumrah said after day 4, after his 4-wicket spell post tea banished England.
There is substance to his style. Even when Virat Kohli cut him away for a boundary in that first ball in that first IPL match, his body language did not dip. He thought about the next ball and plucked Kohli out. He strategises, he wants the contest against the best, he wants to win against the best.
When the chips were down in Newlands and AB de Villiers was stamping his authority on the Test, it was Bumrah was forced him to blink as he dragged a ball on to his stumps. He loves challenges and he never walks away from it.
At Trent Bridge, England were chasing a target of 521. Ishant Sharma got rid of the openers, the ball was seaming, the clouds were hanging over and Bumrah ran in.
He banged the ball in on a length, got it to swerve away. Joe Root, on the backfoot, attempted the drive and nicked it behind. England lost their captain and Bumrah had gotten rid of the head of the snake.
Jos Buttler walked in nervy and poked at one which seamed away, but Rishabh Pant was wrong-footed and shelled the chance. The bowler smiled, turned and walked back. The teams broke for lunch.
Sun accompanied the teams after lunch, bright conditions greeted Buttler and Ben Stokes. The ball was dry, the pitch had flatted out and things meandered along. Kohli chucked the ball to Bumrah and he responded.
That unique action which furrowed eyebrows back in 2013 is the reason for his mystique. The ball is angled back in, it then decks away after pitching. Buttler did not expect this, he drove, he edged and the ball did not carry to Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip.
Few bowlers would have cussed, thrown expletives and waved arms in disgust. Not Bumrah; he asked Pujara and the rest of the slip cordon to come up a few steps and walked back to his mark.
“In white-ball cricket things are different — over there you outsmart the batsman, and over here in Test cricket it’s all about patience and consistency. That was my main focus today. You can’t blast the batsmen out,” he said this at the post-match presser.
What makes a man is not what he displays but what he hides. Bumrah was agitated and he hid it; Bumrah also had a few tricks up his sleeve which he concealed well. India could not pick up any wickets under the glaring sun. England rolled along unscathed.
Jos Buttler notched up his century, Ben Stokes dug in for his 50, Kohli took the new ball and chucked it to Jasprit Bumrah.
He ran in, angled the ball and aimed for the stumps; Buttler left it and the crowd watched as the ball passed over the stumps.
He angled the ball once again in the next over and once again Buttler left it, but this time the ball hit the pads and an inspired innings had come to an end. Now Bumrah tasted blood.
He bounced it in again, angled the ball in again; the ball hit the seam this time and moved away. Jonny Bairstow attempted to defend but the ball winked past his bat and met the top of off stump.
That T20 bowler from 2013 was shunted away, the Test bowler from 2018 was here to stay. In the first innings, Hardik Pandya bounced out Chris Woakes. Bumrah had this in mind when he banged one in aimed for the body, Woakes took his eyes off, stuck out his gloves, and was in a tangle even when Rishabh Pant caught him.
We now know why he did not vent out when Pant dropped him, when the ball kept falling short of slips? It was all in the mind, it was all planned, he meant to do it, it was scripted, that red Dukes ball was talking to the tunes he had set.
But when has Test cricket ever been so straightforward. Bumrah overstepped even as he got rid of Adil Rashid. The boisterous England crowd ensured they were heard.
He blinked, walked back and ran in again, getting Stuart Broad nicked it to second slips. Bumrah leapt, waltzed towards the crowd, placed the finger on his lips.
For the first time in four days, he let his emotions go and reacted. Fingers pointed towards the ground he announced ‘I’m here to stay’
An applause rang through Trent Bridge. Who will doubt him now?
First Published: Aug 23, 2018 10:21 IST