Jasprit Bumrah is barely a year into Test cricket and he is well on his way to becoming the fastest Indian paceman to 50 Test wickets. The right-arm quick is playing his ninth Test and he already has 45 wickets after he brought up his best performance in an innings that flattened Australia in the third Test here on Friday.
And if he picks up another five in Australia’s second innings, which looks quite probable, he will share the record with R Ashwin as the fastest Indian bowler to 50 Test wickets. And remarkably, Bumrah is yet to play a Test in India.
Bumrah bowled four wicket-taking spells (6-1-14-1, 3-2-6-1, 3-0-4-1, 1.5-0-1-3) during which he displayed his admirable skills with both the new ball and old ball. He bowled scorching fast deliveries, sent down slower ones and yorker-length balls when he found a hint of reverse-swing to clean up Australia for 151, giving India a massive 292-run lead. The visitors now sit on a 346-run cushion, despite India slipping to 54/5 in their second innings on Wednesday’s third day.
“I am not surprised,” said Bumrah when asked about his swift growth in the longer-format. “If I say I don’t believe in myself, who else will? I just try to back myself in any situation that I go into. Yes, the start has been good, and I have played in England, South Africa and here. Three different kinds of conditions. Yes, I have not played a Test in India, but whenever you go to different countries, you have new learnings and experiences from playing in every country. I have had a good start let’s see how it goes further,” he remarked.
Bumrah’s unorthodox action has caught the imagination of former Australian cricketers, and they can’t have enough of the 25-year-old bowler. There has been a lot of analysis of his action and the stress he puts on his body, the TV pundits think, can lead to injuries.
“Let people say what they want, I don’t take seriously the talk about my action,” Bumrah said in dismissive style. But the bowler is thankful that no one tried to tinker with his action, and instead asked him to train his body to take the load.
“In my childhood, I used to watch a lot of cricketers bowling… I don’t know how and when I developed this action. But whenever I have gone to NCA or anywhere, nobody tried to change my action. I was just asked to strengthen my body because, they thought, I can lose my pace. I have been a bit lucky in that aspect.
“First time when I went to the NCA, he (Indian team’s bowling coach Bharat Arun) was there and he saw my action. I have been lucky in that he saw my action and he didn’t want to change that and always believed that with this action, I have to become stronger but won’t change my action. Instead, he said, ‘we will work on the consistency and everything else will follow.’ I have been lucky enough to work with such coaches who didn’t try to change me but always told me to back myself,” he offered.
After bowling in two fast pitches with decent success, Bumrah quickly adapted to the slow and low surface that he has grown up playing on back home.
“When we were bowling, the pitch was very slow. It has been a bit up and down, but mostly it remained down. The ball was reversing a lot, and we were thinking of exploiting it as we have the experience of bowling in these conditions in Ranji Trophy back home. (I pitched up the ball) because the ball had started reversing. When we play on similar wickets back home, the ball reverses. So, you try to make the most of it. We were trying to use our experience in first-class cricket where we have bowled with reverse-swinging balls,” he offered.