Wily Bumrah proves his worth

13-06-2017
DH

One of the must-watch games of IPL-10 is the clash between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions at Rajkot on April 30. It shows fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah in full flow, one of the exciting young talents to come through over the last few years.

Given the ball by MI skipper Rohit Sharma to defend a mere score of 11 runs in a Super Over with Aaron Finch and Brendon McCullum at the crease, the 23-year-old Bumrah showed what an exceptional death bowler he’s become now.

Despite starting off with a no-ball and a wide off the second ball, Bumrah displayed nerves of steel as he gave away just 6 runs against two powerful batsmen. Neither one could whack him or even outsmart him. Even when McCullum tried to manufacture something, he failed as Bumrah mixed it up nicely with his yorkers and slower balls. 

It is such performances, the ability to bowl yorkers after yorkers, that has seen Bumrah emerge as the go-to man for captains. The exceptional control at the death and the confidence to take on the most dangerous hitters has seen many rate him as one of the most exciting young pacers in world cricket today. 

Sunday’s Champions Trophy match between India and South Africa was also another instance when his incredible talent forced Virat Kohli to bench in-form pacer Umesh Yadav and play the Gujarat pacer instead. It wasn’t an easy decision to make as Umesh had been a vital cog in the Indian team’s sensational performance last home season. Moreover Umesh, with his explosive pace, could cause damage upfront while Bumrah’s speciality lay in the death overs. It was a tough gamble to make but Bumrah vindicated Kohli choice. The pacer with an unconventional action showed there’s more to him than just yorkers.

Opening the bowling for the first time in this tournament with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Bumrah, sussed up the conditions and the opposite batsmen remarkably well. With the wicket being flat and offering no swing whatsoever, Bumrah opted for discipline and patience.

He stuck to a middle and leg-stump line and along with Bhuvneshwar, just kept applying the pressure on Quinton de Kock and Hashim Amla. Wickets didn’t come at the start but he bowled as per plans, erring not once in a fine first spell.

“It’s always very good when a captain has so much confidence in you. When he shows faith that gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. At that time, a youngster like me can express himself and show what he’s capable of,” said a delighted Bumrah, who ended up with figures of 2/28.

Bumrah, labelled a death bowling specialist thanks to excellent exploits in IPL where he shot to fame, said he’s determined to prove that he can bowl at the start of the innings as well. 

“We don’t focus on the aspect that you get labelled as death bowler or a swing bowler. You always try to contribute whenever you are given the ball. You have to bowl according to the situation, be it at the death or in the beginning. We look to do that. We stick to our plans and bowl good hard lengths.”

Bumrah has risen up through the ranks through sheer hard work. He’s aware of the challenges and spends time with Kohli, M S Dhoni and head coach Anil Kumble, seeking their advice on what sort of lengths and lines to bowl in England, just like he picked Lasith Malinga’s brains on bowling yorkers. 

All those efforts are showing up. In his first ever trip abroad, during the limited-overs series trip to Australia last year, he earned several plaudits with Dhoni calling him one of the finds of the tour. Another two strong performances in England and his stock will just rise even more.

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