By Akarsh HP
“Bowl against the batsman and not against the name” was the advice given to Jasprit Bumrah, the current bowling sensation, by Sachin Tendulkar ahead of his first IPL game for Mumbai Indians.
Jasprit Bumrah, now a household name across the country, made his international debut against Australia in January 2016, almost a year after India’s World Cup semifinal exit against the same opposition. At that time, who knew that the boy from Gujarat would be leading India’s bowling in the forthcoming edition of the ICC World Cup.
Indian Men’s Cricket Team’s 2015 World Cup campaign met with a lot of criticism from the fans regarding the poor bowling at the death overs. Even though India won the World Cup in 2011, this problem existed back then too. The then pace attack led by Zaheer Khan including the likes of Sreesanth, Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra were successful in creating wicket-taking opportunities upfront but failed at containing runs at the death. Zaheer Khan, on one end, was managing to hold the batsman at his crease while the runs were leaking at the other end.
The problem carried onto 2015 too. Though Bhuvaneshwar Kumar was in the squad, he wasn’t the lethal death bowler we know now or the one we see for Sunrisers Hyderabad. The death bowling wasn’t the problem only with the Indian team. It was pretty much the same case with the others too. One of the major reasons for this is the extensive playtime dedicated to leagues like the Indian Premier League and the Big Bash. The rise of T20 format has managed to itch the batsmen’s mind thereby providing them the courage and the audacity to take risks in the middle and the death overs. The T20 format also managed to make every target on the scoreboard look just not enough. This has also been the biggest challenge for the bowlers of the current generation.
Another most important thing the T20 format or rather the IPL has managed to produce is a talent like Jasprit Bumrah. Still remember the time we first got a glimpse of him when he bowled against the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the M. Chinnaswamy stadium with his unusual action. After having gone for three boundaries in his spell, most of us would have written him off as just another bowler in the cash rich league but then came the ball which got Virat Kohli out leg before the wicket and changed things for Jasprit Bumrah. He then managed to take two more wickets in that game and since then it has just been a fabulous journey.
One would argue that Jasprit Bumrah is the best Indian pacer playing right now but he definitely is the most sought after bowler in the world across the formats. His ability to make the ball swing away from the right hander, with that kind of a delivery angle, with the new ball and also managing to hit the Yorkers at the death makes him the most special talent in Indian cricket currently.
The World Cup squad is yet to be announced but it is a no brainer that Jasprit Bumrah picks himself and will lead the pace bowling of India. Batting has never been a worry for India and with Bumrah in the squad, they might overcome the death over criticism and hence making themselves a strong contender to lift the trophy.