World Cup 2023: Jasprit Bumrah – the oil in India’s bowling arsenal



Express News Service

DHARAMSALA: Daryl Mitchell was well past his century at the HPCA Stadium in Dharamsala. By now, Jasprit Bumrah had figures of 1/42 from nine overs. It’s been like that. If one went through the scorecards of all India matches in the ongoing World Cup, they’d hardly notice what Bumrah has done save the match against Pakistan where he delivered Hollywood balls.

But scoreboards do no justice to the impact he has had. Neither does that stat that he has taken 11 wickets in five games. But put it all together with the other numbers — second leading wicket-taker in the tournament behind Mitchell Santner (12), best average (16.27) among bowlers who have played more than one game, best economy (3.8) among the top 60 (yes, you read that right) wicket-takers — it will not be hard to see how Bumrah is the oil of the bowling attack.

It is not just the numbers though. What Bumrah does with his skill is more than that. He conjures magic. Remember the off-cutter to castle Mohammad Rizwan? The sharp outswinger that took the outside edge of Mitchell Marsh against Australia? The pitch perfect yorker that hit the base of middle-stump to send Bangladesh’s Mahmudullah back? You probably would. But what often goes unnoticed are the yorkers that batters barely survive. Mahmudullah, for example, just before he was dismissed, faced a very similar yorker on middle-and-leg but he managed to bring the bat down in time to dig it out.

Bumrah’s ability to keep coming back and hitting those yorkers is second to none. It would not be an understatement to say that not many in world cricket at the moment can bowl yorkers as effectively as Bumrah can. While his incredible skills are well documented — it is what brought him to the international level — what blows ones mind is the consistency with which he is hitting them. And that’s before you realise he was out of the game for close to a year. Pfftt.

Ask him how he has been feeling since returning to Indian team and he was tongue-in-cheek: “At the end of the day, you guys will anyway decide that I was like this, I was like that, what I am doing. But I don’t work like that. I am a little detached person.”

To an extent, he has always been like this. His extreme skills has often overshadowed his shrewdness and ability to read the game of cricket. There is one thing, however, that has changed with the rise of Mohammed Siraj. Bumrah used to be the go-to enforcer for Rohit Sharma or Virat Kohli. Not anymore. Bumrah is now the safety deposit. He will do the job upfront, but he will not be the first pacer to be brought back in the middle-overs when the spinners don’t work. It was clear in Ahmedabad as well as Pune. Sharma brought on Siraj, Babar got out, and then came Bumrah to double down on the impact. Three-four overs upfront, two-three in the middle (30-40), four again at the death… that seems to be the template unless the need arises for Bumrah to bowl in a place where he is usually not needed. For Sharma, every over, every ball Bumrah bowls needs to be savoured, cherished and made the most of. He is India’s golden goose with the ball.

It comes as no surprise that KL Rahul, who has the best seat on the field to watch Bumrah,
feels lucky. “Really lucky that we don’t have to break our bats with his yorkers. We have faced him a little bit in the IPL as well. Really happy that he is back and he is fit,” Rahul, who spent a lot time in rehab with Bumrah at the NCA, told reporters in Pune.

The sentiment is same across the board. One could see the relief in bowling coach Paras Mhambrey’s face on the luxury of having Bumrah back in the team. “Ask me about it man,” he said with a wide smile. “It has been tough. You have seen him in the last three games that he has played. He gives you that breakthrough that you require in the power plays. He’s well adapted to bowl in the middle overs and he’s a top gun dead bowler,” Mhambrey had said in Pune. None of this is exaggeration. The joy of watching an elite athlete like Bumrah at his best is not restricted to the Indian team. Check the X (formerly known as Twitter) feed of former West Indian fast bowler, Ian Bishop, and you’ll understand. “A Jasprit Bumrah yorker is a treat to behold. He is gold,” reads his last tweet on Bumrah after the game against Bangladesh.

Back in Dharamsala, Mitchell took guard against Bumrah in the penultimate over. Mitchell is looking to clear his front leg and swing for the mountains. The pacer though delivers five perfect yorkers and concedes only three runs. The numbers next to his name read 10-1-45-1.
Like Bishop posted, gold. 

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