'It is all about learning'

'It is all about learning'

Before he was given the debut in the first Test at Cape Town, Jasprit Bumrah had played almost non-stop limited-overs cricket since the start of last year. He hadn't played a single multiple-day match at any level in a year. While he was in the squad obviously because he was good enough to play Test cricket, giving him the cap in the very first Test ahead of the likes of Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav came as a bit of a surprise.

While Bumrah rejected that there was any nervousness when he was told he would be playing the Test or when he came on to bowl on the opening day, you could sense the eagerness to make an immediate impact. But, as is often the case, he struggled to find the right length -- either bowling too full to be driven or bowling a touch too short to be pulled away by tail-enders and the pressure created up front slowly released.

"Not nervousness," Bumrah insisted when asked if nerves played on his mind. "It's not like in my life I was playing a first-class game for the first time, I have played a lot of four-day games. There was a long gap but that's fine. There was a discussion that I would play the match, so I was talking to our bowling coach what kind of things I should do, what kind of wickets are there over here or what should I expect So these kinds of things (I was discussing), and you can think this is going to happen and that's going to happen. But as soon as you are in things are different -- so that was my basic plan, go inside and have a feel of the wicket and changes should be made accordingly," he explained.

That he is a quick learner was evident in the second innings when he pulled back his length a bit and enjoyed better returns. Where he conceded 73 runs in 19 overs for the wicket of de Villiers in the first innings, he gave away only 39 runs in 11.2 overs in exchange of Faf du Plessis, Quinton de Kock and de Villiers.

"In the first innings, we thought we bowled a little fuller than normal because in India the wickets are different where we have to pitch fuller to get the swing and to get the batsmen on the front foot," pointed out Bumrah about change in India's bowling methods. While the Indian pacemen allowed Proteas to score 286 all out from having them down at 12/3, in the second they restricted the hosts to 130 all out.

"Over here there is bounce, there is a little bit of difference (compared to Indian pitches). We analysed that and tried to adapt in the second innings, and as a unit we were able to create pressure. So that was the basic plan going into the second innings. That worked well. So hopefully, we will see videos of these (Centurion) wickets, what happens over here and we plan according to it," Bumrah offered.

The Gujarat bowler admitted it was challenging to adjust to the conditions after largely having bowled on flat pitches. "It's always challenging whenever you come to a new country, the wickets are different, the weather is different," he said. "So, it's always good to face new challenges. As you play more and more, you get to know a lot about the wickets, you get a fair idea about where to bowl and what kind of lines to bowl. It's been good, I am still learning, hopefully, in further matches, I will be able to do better."

While India stood shoulder to shoulder with South Africa for the better part of the first Test, the defeat was still hurting as skipper Virat Kohli stressed. More often such setbacks leave the teams dispirited but Bumrah felt this Indian team was different.

"Confidence doesn't dent after one match," he noted. "If it happens, then you don't deserve to play. Learn from the mistake you made and go forward. There is not a single cricketer who has not made a mistake. You keep learning and you keep improving all the time. We are trying to rectify our mistakes and move forward," he observed.

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