“The nagging doubts over Bumrah’s inclusion in place of Umesh Yadav who had not done much wrong in the first game were all silently laid to rest”
The joke going around England at the moment is to pick up any player who has been dissed aside by Michael Holding and see him perform to the best of his ability. After running down Hardik Pandya completely, ‘Whispering Death’ was in for a rude shock after the Indian all-rounder produced a five-wicket haul and then got to a run-a-ball fifty in the second innings. The same can be said for Jasprit Bumrah, whom the West Indian had doubted for his abilities with the new ball.
“I am not sure he is going to be a good new ball bowler. He struggles to take the ball away from the right-handers when bowling with the new ball. So he wouldn’t be my first choice.”
It was ironical then, that Bumrah turned out to the game-changer on Day 4 of the third Test with the second new ball, his spell leaving the rivals perplexed as they scouted around looking for answers. However, Holding was not alone in his assessment of Bumrah who, it was believed, still had a long way to go before he was able to silence critics with his performances in the longest format of the game.
Touted as possibly one of India’s best LOI bowlers to date, Bumrah with his uncanny action and his yorker-bowling abilities was hardly seen as a Test specialist. He was termed one-dimensional with his stock delivery coming into the right-hander angling from a short length hardly seeming successful on pitches that did not have variable bounce. The yorker was his strength but variety eluded him and moving the ball both ways was one aspect that he needed to work on desperately.
Against England, in only his fourth Test match the Gujarat bowler showed his willingness to learn and adapt, just bowling one yorker in the entire game. Instead, he focused on bowling a good length and relied on seaming the ball into the batsman. A surprise short ball along to go with his inswinger and real pace completed his armoury. With movement, varying lengths and control the troubled captain Joe Root and eventually dismissed him with a ball that seamed away – a delivery that could have very well be left alone.
To Jos Buttler, yet another cricketer who has done well to erase the myth that T20 specialist players cannot do well in the longer format over the summer, Bumrah cleverly used his release position to flummox the Englishman. Thinking that the ball will come into him, Buttler who had already committed to defending the ball quietly was forced to edge. Luckily for him, Cheteshwar Pujara was unable to reach it.
However, once the new ball had been taken the threat of Bumrah doubled. An inswinger from over the wicket nipped further in after pitching forced Buttler to broaden his shoulders and the appeal for LBW was hard to turn down. His best wicket though was that of Jonny Bairstow’s who was unable to defend his off-stump as a pacy length ball darted into the injured player. Playing inside the line, the batsman was forced to hop around as a hat-trick was for the offering.
For the hat-trick, Bumrah turned to his reliable yorker, which surprisingly he got so wrong that it turned into a full-toss. In a way, the fact that his go-to weapon was hardly proving effective in the match and the so-called ‘one-dimensional’ bowler had to look towards other variations for wickets signified his growth rate, something that Holding was quick to admit after a rising ball dismissed Chris Woakes.
Aware that the all-rounder was iffy against the rising ball, Bumrah sent down a ferocious delivery that was about head-high. As Woakes tried swaying away from it, the bat was unfortunately not dropped and it settled in silently into the extended hands of Rishabh Pant who has been phenomenal behind the stumps in the game. As Holding stated that it was the best bouncer that he had seen in modern days in a long, long time, Bumrah’s steady progress in his short yet impressive career had been completed.
As he returned to clinch his second consecutive 5-wicket haul with an outswinger that Stuart Broad edged to second slip, the nagging doubts over Bumrah’s inclusion in place of Umesh Yadav who had not done much wrong in the first game were all silently laid to rest. So had Holding’s doubts over the form of a talented player who is sure to land the title of India’s premier fast bowler in the next few years.