Dubai: Jasprit Bumrah has delivered another match-winning performance to help India level the five-match Test series against England at Visakhapatnam on Monday.
The 30-year-old pacer claimed a match haul of nine wickets on a spin-friendly pitch to give the hosts a 106-run win.
During the course of the Test, Bumrah scaled another peak when he became the fastest Indian to claim 150 wickets in Tests during the first innings.
“I don’t look at numbers. As a youngster, I did that and it made me excited and put me under lot of pressure. I am happy that we won and I contributed to that,” Bumrah told the official broadcaster after receiving the Player of the Match award.
He unleashed his trademark lethal yorker to dismiss Ollie Pope in the first innings, to deliver a knock out punch on the visitors. The England batter’s counter-attacking 196 in the second innings of the first Test paved the way for the Three Lions’ stunning win by 28 runs, after rallying from a deficit of 190 runs at Hyderabad.
“As a youngster, that was the first delivery I learnt (yorker). I used to feel that is the only way to take wickets and had seen the legends of the game like Waqar Younis, Wasim Akram and even Zaheer Khan do it,” he added.
The 30-year-old has had a roller-coaster career after a couple of career-threatening back injuries. His unique action and the pace he generates from the shorter run-up has often caught the batters by surprise, but the flipside is that it takes a heavy toll on his back.
The former world No 1 One-Day International bowler pacer pulled out of the home series against South Africa in September 2022 with a back injury and missed several key fixtures, including the 2023 World Test Championship final against Australia. There were doubts if he could play the longer formats and the fans were resigned to the fact that he could play only in the Twenty20 format. But even that plan got scuttled when he experienced pain before the Sri Lanka series in January last year, diminishing the hopes further.
Finally a successful back surgery in New Zealand reignited hopes for the Men in Blue. “Bumrah underwent surgery in New Zealand on his lower back, which was successful and he remains pain-free,” BCCI secretary Jay Shah had said in a statement. A news that every Indian support had been eagerly waiting for a long time.
Bumrah, after undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy, returned to the Indian team for the Twenty20 series against Ireland in Dublin in July. The pacer passed the fitness test, but he was way below his best. Nevertheless, it was a good start to a new spell.
Back to his menacing best
He survived the Asia Cup in September and came out unscathed to brighten the prospects of India having their ace ready for the 50-over World Cup, held at home in October-November last year.
Bumrah finished the World Cup with 20 wickets and the trio of Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Mohammed Siraj helped the Men in Blue steamroller their opposition to post 10 successive wins before losing the final to Australia at Ahmedabad.
Just 10 months after undergoing a surgery for his troubled lower back, Bumrah has returned to his menacing best. The Indian wickets are a deathbed for fast bowlers, but Bumrah’s crafty use of reverse swing and mixing his deliveries to set up the batters into a false shot, has earned him 15 wickets in the last two Tests, 23 in last three.
Still, he doesn’t want to be known as the leader of the pack, instead his role is to guide the youngsters like Mukesh Kumar, a role adopted by Zaheer Khan towards the end of his career.
“We’re going through a transition, so I feel it’s my responsibility to help them in any way I can. Skipper Rohit Sharma and I discuss certain things. I look at the situation at the wicket and think about my options. I should not be a one-trick pony,” Bumrah said.
Missing key players
Rohit is elated after his young side managed to halt the ultra-aggressive ‘Bazball’ England. The squad without key players like Virat Kohli, KL Rahul and Ravindra Jadeja stop England from winning their 15th match in 20 Tests under the new management of skipper Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.
“He is a champion player for us (Bumrah). When you win a game like that, you have to look at the overall performance as well. We were good with the bat. You know winning a Test in these conditions is not easy. Wanted our bowlers to step up and they did that,” Rohit Sharma said at the post-match ceremony.
With the series level 1-1, both teams will resume their battle at Rajkot and India will be hoping to get more reinforcements in the form of Kohli, Rahul and Jadeja, but Bumrah will still hold all aces.