Jasprit Bumrah will certainly grab a high position in the list of players who had a dream start to their careers. Ever since attaining the prestigious Indian cap, Jasprit Bumrah has been the go-to-bowler for the Men in Blue. With each passing game, he has continued rising through the ranks, thanks to his perilous and peerless skills with the ball.
By the turn of 2018, Bumrah became the No. 1 ranked bowler in T20Is and ODIs. The 27-years old also achieved his career-best #3 ranking in Test rankings in 2019 – announcing himself loud in the longest format as well. Gradually, Bumrah became a preeminent asset for the side.
Amazing Test debut
He made his Test debut against South Africa in January 2018, and he commenced with a bang! He took down the big giants Hashim Amla, Faf du Plessis, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock and got a thumping start to his Test career.
He got his maiden Test wicket, scalping de Villiers, with perfect planning and execution. He pitched the delivery preceding the wicket-ball on the full-length, but it remained a bit straight – making de Villiers drive easily. The wicket delivery was also full, enticing him to drive again, but this time the ball nipped in with the seam movement – leaving a huge gap between bat and pad, only to disturb the timbers.
Jasprit Bumrah continued impressing throughout the series and ended it with 14 wickets at around 25 runs apiece.
Jasprit Bumrah swung the ball ferociously in the Pataudi Trophy 2018, making life tough for the English batters. The right-arm quick generally swung the ball in for both left-handers and right-handers, with a few ones away occasionally for the southpaws to draw the false shots from over the wicket. There were a few balls that remained straight as well after being pitched on the deck, making him largely unpredictable to pick.
For instance, in the fourth Test, he set up Jonny Bairstow brilliantly in the first innings. The ball before the wicket was angled in for him, which Bairstow let pass himself. But, the following delivery remained straight rather than coming in, and Bairstow, who was ready for the inswinger, knicked the ball to the wicketkeeper.
His delivery to Keaton Jennings, in the same Test, was an absolute peach!
Similarly, he bowled two deliveries wide outside the off-stump to Root before delivering an inswinger on the line of the stumps. Joe Root, who was waiting for another outswinger, was trapped cunningly in the fifth Test. Overall, Bumrah was prudent throughout the series and ended it with 14 wickets in three Tests on his maiden England tour.
Expected Bowling Average (using ball tracking data) of India's 🇮🇳 pace bowlers in Test series between England & India in 2018 📈
— The CricViz Analyst (@cricvizanalyst) May 8, 2021
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In the historic Border-Gavaskar Trophy 2018-19, Bumrah was the joint-leading wicket-taker (21) with Nathan Lyon. Among all the bowlers to have bowled in at least two innings, no one had a better bowling average (17.00) and strike rate (44.9) than Bumrah. The sturdy pacer was a vital cog in India’s memorable triumph against the mighty Aussies.
He made the record of picking the most number of wickets (49) in the first ten Tests by an Indian pacer.
He added another feather in his cap in the two-match Test series against West Indies by becoming only the third Indian bowler to take a Test hat-trick. Bumrah finished another series as the highest wicket-taker (13) and became the fastest Indian pacer to snare 50 Test wickets, taking only 11 matches to reach the milestone. His bowling average of 9.23 was the highest among all and no other bowler had the balls-per-wicket ratio of less than or equal to Bumrah's 22.6 throughout the rubber.
"Not much you can say about Jasprit the way he has been bowling. All we can say is we're lucky to have him in our team," said a happy skipper Virat Kohli after winning the series. Bumrah, indeed, bowled like a dream in his initial matches. His ability to extract seam movement off the pitch and hit the deck hard helped him flourish.
From his Test debut till the end of 2019, Jasprit Bumrah had the second-best bowling average (19.24) among all the pacers to have bowled in at least 20 Test innings. More importantly, he made all these records despite playing all the games away from home in alien conditions. Before featuring in his first home Test, Bumrah played 17 away Test matches - joint-most with Daren Ganga barring Pakistan players who made their debut after 2009.
Is recent form a huge concern?
While Jasprit Bumrah had a fantastic start to his Test career, his recent form is a huge concern for India. In the last year or so, his form has taken a massive hit. His numbers have gone downhill drastically ever since the New Zealand tour last year
The back injury has had a massive role in his abysmal form and rhythm. The pacer suffered a stress fracture in his lower back after the conclusion of the tour to the West Indies. Ever since returning from the injury, he seems to have lost the zip that made him reap so much success in his initial part of the career.
Bumrah’s off-colour form is perfectly conveyed by the above chart. His numbers have been staggeringly substandard compared to the other fast bowlers of each series. Among all the pacers to have bowled a minimum of 15 innings, Jasprit Bumrah has the second-worst bowling average (34.95) and strike rate (75.4) in the Tests since 2020.
Of all the damage, his exploits with the new ball are probably affected the most since his comeback. Till 2019, Jasprit Bumrah took 17 wickets, with each coming after conceding around 18.5 runs in the first 15 overs. But, since then, he has taken only two wickets at a lousy bowling average of 93.0 in the aforementioned overs.
Expectations for this England tour
In the recently concluded WTC Final, the fast-bowlers enjoyed a bowler-friendly track of The Rose Bowl. Jasprit Bumrah, though, was the least effective bowler among the lot.
The pitch map in the WTC Final above paints a crystal clear picture. Bumrah failed to get that ideal spot to bowl on, as his lengths were all over the place throughout the match.
Bumrah didn't bowl that bad in the match; he just lacked the consistency to hit on a particular length, and was on the shorter side a bit too much. He did get a decent amount of movement from the air and off the track at times, much like the other pacers.
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The pitch maps attached above are from the third Test from India's tour of England, 2018. Bumrah was far more accurate against the English batsmen compared to the WTC Final. He just nailed the ball in the channel and also was pretty good with his lengths.
Barring the fifth Test, he didn't concede more % of runs on the leg-side in any of the four innings. This shows his immense regularity in bowling the tight lines, which tempted the batsmen to play on the front foot. His 78.57% of deliveries were dots, which were the second-most by a bowler in that series.
In the upcoming series, he can pose a massive threat to Joe Root and co., courtesy of his supreme skills. Like the last series, he can trouble the England captain with his incoming deliveries. His upright seam position will further add to Root’s misery against the pacers.
Around 79% of his deliveries against Root were dot balls, which shows Bumrah’s domination over him during the trip. The fast-bowler dismissed him twice on this tour, and this tally is likely to increase further.
Bumrah can also trouble Dom Sibley with his deliveries that remain straight off the seam after being pitched as well. Sibley’s technique allows him to counter the swing effectively, especially the ones going away from him. But, that technique can be exposed by bowling the nip-backers to him.
Matt Henry did that in both innings of the second Test match in the recently concluded Test series. He bowled on the length and after pitching it remained straight, dismissing Sibley. This plot might work productively for Jos Buttler as well, especially when he hasn’t played in these conditions for a while now.
For Zak Crawley, Bumrah can move the ball away to bother him. In the series against New Zealand, three of his four dismissals were off the outswingers or the balls seaming away from him. Crawley has been facing issues against such deliveries of late, making him a good candidate for knicking the ball to the slips.
Bumrah is known to learn from his mistakes and rectify them in the following games. It’s fair to expect him to make a strong comeback on an important tour. Bumrah himself would understand that he is extremely crucial for his team, and India can’t afford him to have another below-par tour!