Fit-again Bumrah back with a bang

Fit-again Bumrah back with a bang

Right-arm pacer claims a fifer as India close in on victory

Bumrah gave an ample demonstration of his fitness, hunger, skill, desire, determination and temperament on another fabulous day of Test cricket against England. Reuters

During the pre-departure press conference to England when the current team management’s policy of dropping a player if he failed the Yo-Yo test raised many eyebrows, skipper Virat Kohli came up with an answer where he singled out Jasprit Bumrah for special praise.

“That (emphasis on fitness) showed in the mindset of someone like Jasprit Bumrah who was bowling 144 kmph in his last spell of the third Test (against South Africa). That is where someone’s point of fitness comes in. When you have people that are hungry, that are fit, that are ready you are not only competing but are winning. That is the difference between getting emotional and letting go of a policy and holding on to it and taking hard calls and moving ahead with that system.”

Bumrah gave an ample demonstration of his fitness, hunger, skill, desire, determination and temperament on another fabulous day of Test cricket against England. A second five-wicket haul in just his fourth Test match showed why Kohli now considers him as his main man in all forms of cricket.

Despite returning from a thumb injury that kept him out of the entire limited overs leg and even the first two Tests, the 24-year-old hardly showed any rustiness whatsoever. While he had to bowl only 12.2 overs in the first innings, he was forced into a severe workout in the second essay and not once did he sulk during 29 grueling overs.

In the morning session, he bowled nine probing overs on the jump, harrying England skipper Joe Root and Ollie Pope with his darting line and nippy lengths. Throughout that long spell where he bowled four maidens, he didn’t deliver a single bad ball, just giving away 10 runs in the process. He also forced Root into an error with his disciplined show.

Bumrah had another spell in the second session when the sun was out and the pitch had eased up. Jos Buttler and Ben Stokes were looking very comfortable and easily dead-batted every Indian bowler. But Bumrah got Buttler to edge on three occasions, his sharp pace even with the old ball troubling the right-hander.

Bumrah then returned in the evening after Kohli handed him the new ball. He had already bowled 18 overs in the day but the Baroda pacer just kept steaming in. There were no hints of tiredness in his legs. Such was his ferocity and accuracy, even Buttler, despite having completed a ton, fell prey to it. He then took two more wickets to complete a fifer, a sixth wicket denied thanks to a no-ball.

Bumrah then turned up for the media activities fresh as cucumber, betraying any signs of weariness after bowling 26 punishing overs in the day. He said the grind of Ranji Trophy has prepared him well for marathon spells in Tests.

“When I made my first-class debut, my first spell was of 10 overs. So, I was always used to bowling a lot of overs in Ranji Trophy which always helps. That helped me today as well. When I was injured I was working on my fitness, my training schedules. I was always in touch with our trainers. Whenever I come in, I should be in a good space. All of that helps today.”

Bumrah said proper preparation during rehabilitation ensured he was game-ready. “I was injured but I was able to bowl in the nets. Even when I was back home, I was trying to train in the gym, whatever I could do, maybe run on the treadmill. But I was always focusing and keeping an eye on what works over here that suits my bowling. I was just focusing on that, keeping an eye on what both teams were doing in the first two games, what’s helping them and what is successful here.

“I was just trying to keep an eye and replicate that in the nets sessions. It usually takes time because it doesn't matter how many overs you bowl in the nets. Match feel is always different. Try to get into the groove pretty quickly. That was my basic aim.”

Bumrah has already become an indispensable commodity in white ball cricket with his toe-crushing yorkers and the skills and courage to bowl at the death. With performances like this, he can become a regular in the Test club too.