Dubai: Mumbai Indians ended the group stages of the 13th edition of the Indian Premier League as the table toppers. And one man who has once again played an integral role in this ride is pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah. With 23 wickets from 13 games, he has been the go-to-man every time the defending champions have needed a wicket.
However, what stands out for the pacer this season is the struggle he had in the first few games of the season. The opening game of the season against Chennai Super Kings at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi saw him go for an uncharacteristic 43 runs from his four overs for one solitary wicket. While he did pick two wickets in the next game against Kolkata Knight Riders, he again went for 32 from his four overs.
Questions were raised on whether Bumrah had lost the spark as the runs were flowing and the deadly yorkers which the pacer is known for weren't coming out as effectively as it has otherwise in his career. It has almost been a given that Bumrah can dish out the yorker even in his sleep.
The third game also saw Bumrah give away 42 runs against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. But Mumbai Indians' fourth game finally saw Bumrah get the grip back as he finished with figures of 2/18 from his four overs against Kings XI Punjab and there has been no looking back for the speedster.
The pacer says that sometimes one needs to look at the weather conditions and the impact it can have on the plans. Bumrah reveals that with intense sweating happening in the first half of the season, hitting the mark with the yorker was that much more difficult and it was important to fall back on other deliveries.
"The weather is changing now, but when we came here it was really hot so there was a lot of sweating. Then it gets difficult to bowl with the wet ball and then when the dew sets in and then when you get to the (bowling) crease you start to slip there as well. So, it is difficult, so you have to practice a lot of things and find the other options. You think that okay if this ball is not working, what are the other options for me.
"You can practice with the wet ball, you can practice everything, but there are some days when the ball is really wet and you find it very difficult so you find other options which you can rely on. It is a cat and mouse game which you play and then you look to do the best you can for the team," he told ANI.
Another area of focus for bowlers around the world in the post-coronavirus era has been the ban that has been put on the use of saliva to shine the ball. While the wet conditions have definitely been a hindrance in the first half of the season, Bumrah feels that the saliva ban isn't an issue as such when it comes to white-ball cricket.
"For me it is not a big factor in white-ball cricket because the ball doesn't swing anyway a lot and the seam movement is also not much in the shortest format. So, you don't look to shine the ball a lot and it can only come into play when the surfaces are dry and you can reverse the ball. But it is not a major factor in white-ball cricket. I feel it is a much bigger factor in the red ball format," he said.
Having been rested for the final group game against Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesday, Bumrah will look to continue from where he left as Mumbai Indians take on Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 1 on Thursday in Dubai.