On a Day 5 pitch at The Oval, when people yet again started talking how Ravichandran Ashwin could have been India’s best weapon to win the match, a fast bowler emerged as India’s most effective bowler. If Ravindra Jadeja gave a major breakthrough by dismissing Haseeb Hameed, Jasprit Bumrah continued the momentum. In space of 5 runs, he scalped England’s hero from first innings, Ollie Pope for 2 followed by Jonny Bairstow for a duck. The spell, which reminded the critics of Waqar Younis in his prime, saw him bowling 6 overs and conceding just 6 runs while picking up these 2 wickets.
And it was definitely not just the wickets taken by Bumrah. Wickets mattered but what mattered more was his controlled bowling. Virat Kohli revealed, “As soon as the ball started reversing, Bumrah said give me the ball.” On a flat pitch, on Day 5, Bumrah knew when he could turn the table. Indian team has been lucky to get a pace attack that often surpasses the failures of the batting unit and wins match for the side. And Bumrah is the brightest of them all!
Out of 101 wickets in 24 Tests taken by Bumrah, only 4 wickets came in India in 2 Test matches against England earlier this year. Bumrah has mostly played overseas and Indian team management has saved his service for the same. And one cannot blame them for that. After Burmah’s debut, India faced only Afghanistan, West Indies, and South Africa before England toured this year. Amid hectic schedules, no team would like to use their best bowler against easy opponents. However, Bumrah missed South Africa Test series due to an injury.
At The Oval Test, Bumrah became the fastest Indian pacer to claim 100 Test wickets surpassing the likes of Kapil Dev, Irfan Pathan, Mohammed Shami. The fact that he played 20 out 24 Tests in SENA and took 83% of his total wicket on those tours speak of what kind of bowler he has been since his debut. Within first year of his red-ball career, Bumrah claimed 5-wicket hauls in South Africa, England, and Australia. These three spells on foreign soil came in the same calendar year, an achievement which no other India bowler could register.
His 6-33 against Australia in the boxing-day Test match of 2018 was a tremendous show of his control, variation, and skill. His delivery to dismiss Shaun Marsh just before the lunch on Day 3 became part of Indian cricket folklore instantly. A brilliant slower delivery completely bamboozled the Australian left-hander and provided a key breakthrough. Bumrah’s 21 wickets at an average of 17 in that series paved the way for India’s first ever series win in Australia after 70 years. In 2019, Bumrah became the third Indian to take a Test hattrick when he blew away the West Indies top-order at Sabina Park Cricket Ground, Jamaica. The hosts were restricted for 117 as Bumrah finished with his best bowling in Test so far, 6-27.
In a very short span Bumrah has achieved great heights. He has an unusual bowling action and can generate lots of pace despite a relatively short runup. Staying fit will be an important focus area for Bumrah as he is currently the leader of India’s bowling pack in all three formats. Interestingly, Bumrah’s Test debut came almost 2 years after his ODI debut. By then he already established himself as one of the finest bowlers in white-ball cricket with his heroics for India and Mumbai Indians in IPL. But there were doubts over his Test success. Nonetheless Bumrah was well focused to perform with the red ball as well. No wonder, he was confident enough to ask Kohli for the ball on number of occasions.
Time and again, Bumrah has proved himself to be a gamechanger at any situation. For instance, on day 5 of the Lord’s Test match of the ongoing series, when England were 7 down, Ollie Robinson and Jos Buttler survived 75 balls and looked determined to take the match towards a draw. After trying everything, when he seemed to be out of ideas, Bumrah came round the wicket and delivered another well disguised slowed ball to Robinson. The batter had no answer to Bumrah’s delivery and the partnership was broken. With time, Bumrah has become that wizard for the Indian team who makes everything possible with magic spells.