“Although Jasprit Bumrah’s bowling spell of 4/35 showed why he is regarded as one of the best pacemen in the world at the moment, it also revealed India’s over-reliance on him.”
Jasprit Bumrah has been India’s most prolific seam-bowler in the past couple of years. Although it came in a losing cause, his spell of 4/35—in the third ODI of the ongoing series against the Windies—showed why he is one of the best pace bowlers in the world at the moment.
However, his spell also revealed how much India is dependent on his bowling prowess. In his and Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s absence, the Indian bowling unit conceded scores of more than 300 runs each time in the first two ODIs. Although India restricted the visitors to 283/9 on their return, even Kumar seemed to be nowhere near to the level of Bumrah, who was both economical and took wickets at regular intervals.
Kumar came into this match after recovering from a back injury, and that could have been the reason behind his rusty bowling spell, during which he conceded 70 runs in his 10 overs. However, statistics will tell that he has never made as important an impact to the ODI bowling unit as that of Bumrah, since the latter made his debut.
Table: Performance of Indian pacers in matches played alongside Bumrah
The numbers clearly show how the other Indian pacers lack the skills to emulate Bumrah. Even though Bumrah and Kumar’s pair is regarded as one of the best pace-bowling pairs going around in the world at the moment, the above numbers show a huge discrepancy in their contributions to the team. Both of Kumar’s strike-rate and bowling average appear to be in huge contrast to that of Bumrah. Not only that, his strike rate is even lower than that of Hardik Pandya.
Umesh Yadav gives a better bowling average and strike rate as compared to that of Kumar and Pandya but his economy rate of 6.60 is something that a team would never want. Only the numbers of Dhawal Kulkarni, Barinder Sran and Shardul Thakur appear to be somewhat in sync with that of Bumrah but again, the sample size of their matches isn’t enough to come to a conclusion.
In the 42 matches Bumrah has played in his career so far, he has picked up 76 wickets at an average of 21.09, economy of 4.51 and strike rate of 28. These figures make him the highest wicket-taker among pace bowlers with 20 or more wickets to his name since his debut. Not only that, his economy rate of 4.51 is the best among pace bowlers from the top 10 ranked ODI sides during this period with his bowling average being the second best. His strike-rate of 28 is also commendable which stands seventh in the same group, with no other Indian pacer nearing his mark.
A further dive into the numbers representing the bowling performances of the top 10 ranked ODI sides will reveal that Afghanistan have the best figures by a fair margin. However, they haven’t played as many competitive matches against the other nine sides have played amongst themselves
Table showing the bowling performance of top 10 ODI sides since Jasprit Bumrah’s debut
So, if that is considered and Afghanistan is excluded from the list, India seems to have the best bowling average and economy rate along with the third best strike-rate amongst the nine teams.
Only India have better bowling figures in all three departments—average, economy rate and strike rate—as compared to the Global average, economy rate and strike rates of 33.35, 5.30 and 37.7 respectively. South Africa and New Zealand have a better average and strike rate but their economy rate is more than the global mean. Pakistan have better average and economy rate but their strike rate is more.
Now, if we consider India’s bowling numbers in the past two years, with and without Bumrah’s presence in it, it will again suggest a huge contrast.
Table showing performance of Indian ODI bowling unit with and without Bumrah since January 2016
Without Bumrah, India’s bowling unit has averaged 36.62 and had a strike rate of 41.7 in 14 matches, which are figures way behind that of the Global mean, and even behind that of their performance in Bumrah’s presence. In Bumrah’s presence India average almost 8 wickets per match, whereas that reduces to almost 6 wickets per match in his absence.
India has won 34 out of the 42 matches Bumrah has represented them in thus far and that amounts to around a whopping win percentage of 81. His statistics in matches that India has won read even better than his career statistics. He averages 19.01, has an economy rate of 4.34 and strikes at 26.2 in matches that India have won. In the 8 matches that India has lost in his presence, he averages 33.36, has a higher economy rate of 5.24 and strike rate of 38.1. So, that sums up how India are going to have a bad day if he has one.
The incompetency of the other pacers, despite Bumrah’s huge success, is somehow amended by the Indian spin-duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav, who have been as prolific as Bumrah.
|Spinners||Matches||Innings||Wickets||Average||Economy rate||Strike rate|
Table showing Chahal and Kuldeep’s performance in matches played alongside Bumrah
However, even though the spin-duo keep the middle overs in total control, India need pacers who can support Bumrah both during the initial overs and the death overs. The aforementioned numbers show that India don’t have such pacers who do that often. 52% of Bumrah’s 76 ODI wickets have come in the death overs of the innings. That is the highest among pacers since his debut. Also, his economy of 5.7 has been the best during the last 10 overs. That tells how blessed India have been to have him.
With the World Cup coming up, there is probably not much time left to find another bowler who can emulate Bumrah’s prowess, unless one of the active Indian bowlers steps up. At the moment, India’s pace department is hugely reliant on Bumrah and this over-reliance may hurt them in the mega event.