‘My 1st wicket is Steve Smith,’ Jasprit Bumrah’s classic response on how to get the Australian out
A fit-again Jasprit Bumrah is set to return to action in the three-match T20I series against Sri Lanka starting from January 5. India’s premier fast bowler has been out of action ever since the West Indies tour in August-September last year because of an injury. He proved his fitness by bowling full tilt in India’s practice session at Visakhapatnam ahead of the 2nd ODI against West Indies before being included for the Sri Lanka T20Is and Australia ODIs.
Ahead of the first T20I against Sri Lanka at Guwahati on Sunday, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, Bumrah spoke about various aspects of his bowling and how he goes about his business against top batsmen like Australia’s Steve Smith.
Dhoni as captain or Kohli?
Both of them are pretty similar in the way that they want you to take ownership. They give you the field you want, the help you need. You take responsibility of your own bowling.
Tests, T20s or ODIs?
Tests. If you do well in Tests, you can do well in any format. Because people saw me in the IPL first, they think that’s what made me. But the major thing that helped me shape my career was first class cricket. In fact 2016 was the first year, after playing for the country, that I started playing IPL regularly. Before that, I hardly played a few games. In first class cricket you learn bowling in different conditions, bowling to different people, travelling and quickly identifying what the wicket is doing, what different opponents are trying to do. You learn your game.
Aggression on the field
When I just started playing, if things were not going according to my wish, I would get angry, I would lose control. Lasith Malinga—everybody knows that even if he’s under pressure, he’s the one who’s smiling and he is totally calm—he told me if you are angry you will make wrong decisions. You have to be calm, slow things down, take the time to reevaluate. Some people don’t show aggression but it is there as a driving force. That’s me. Maybe there’s something going on in my head, but I try not to show it. For some people, showing the aggression might help.
On the Indian fast bowling unit
We had to play a lot of away Tests in 2018, so we knew as a bowling unit, if we want to win, we have to take 20 wickets. We knew that us pacers we have to step up. We were not rushing for success, we were not looking to break records, we were not looking to surprise the world that India has fast bowlers. We were just looking to focus on our processes, how we can improve our game. We are very close to each other, all of us help each other, we discuss everything, share our experience, ideas.
Why are there so many really fast bowlers in India now?
Maybe because the fitness levels have gone up. That helps everyone. Understanding your game has also helped quite a lot. You don’t need to bowl 150-160, you need to be effective.
Is there a fast bowling rivalry in the making between Jofra Archer, you, Pat Cummins?
I don’t look at it that way, no. I enjoy fast bowling. I am not the kind of guy who will get jealous. If good fast bowling is happening, I will always watch and I will have fun. Even if somebody is bowling really well against us.
How do you get Steve Smith out?
My first one day wicket is Steve Smith. There’s no particular way that you get a batsman out. You study what the wicket is doing, then select the best option. What I look to do against any good batsman, is to have patience. A Test match is a patience game. You wait for the batsmen to make mistakes. Whoever loses their patience first is the one who’s going to suffer.
How was the feeling getting back to bowling at the nets?
Very, very good. I went full steam. The body felt good. Whenever you go back to the team, you see all those faces, be in that competitive circle, you always want to push yourself. The hunger again comes back, you’re again eager to play. Sometimes when you play continuously, it’s difficult to keep yourself fresh.