Jasprit Bumrah celebrates dismissing Jonny Bairstow. (Credit: Twitter)

Jasprit Bumrah — India’s answer to everything fast bowling

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A visibly disappointed bowler is walking away at the end of the first over of his fresh spell, shaking his head, mumbling something to himself all the time. The guy has bowled his literal heart out on a deck that has been as dormant as Rahane with the bat for India has been this series and it was ironic that it was Rahane who had dropped a catch. You almost felt sorry for him till you saw Jasprit Bumrah reacting like that.

It’s not often that Jasprit Bumrah reacts in this manner to a mistake by the fielder. We all remember how he went up to Quinton de Kock, who dropped a catch in his final over of 2019 IPL final which they eventually managed to win. It just tells you how much he wanted to do well despite having been the guy who broke the Test open for India by taking two crucial wickets already.

Before the Lunch break on the final Day of the fourth Test, Jasprit Bumrah had figures of 11-5-14-0 where he did beat the bat often but the wickets column was still as dead as the deck. He did look the best bowler for India excluding Shardul Thakur who can’t be compared to mortals like Bumrah. Jadeja looked devoid of rhythm and it was starting to be a real possibility that India may not be able to extract enough from the deck to force a win despite England showing enough signs that they were not quite at their thinking best.

Take Hameed’s hoick off Jadeja, the Dawid Malan runout. There were enough signs and you just needed someone to provide that spark in the middle post the break as England were sitting pretty at 131/2 at Lunch. The very first over after the interval was when Bumrah got the old ball to move and beat Hameed with a hint of reverse swing. Soon, Jadeja castled Hameed and Bumrah was now starting to set up Pope with a lot of the ball going away from him.

The plan worked out as he ended his brief halt on 99 Test wickets by getting one to nip back in off the seam and forcing a deflection onto the stumps off Pope’s back leg. Pope was the man who top-scored for the hosts in the first innings and has been in the best of run-making form at his home ground but he had no clue about that one and Jonny Bairstow was in next.

Bumrah needed only three balls to wind up Bairstow as he pulled out the yorker and got it to inswing into the batsman who was again castled. And just like that, India had broken the back of England’s middle order. Root was once again left stranded at the other end wondering when he’d get some support. This wasn’t a surface that had too much help for anyone; it was just the skill and Jasprit Bumrah really raising his game to another level.

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Going back to the drop, Bumrah had Overton fending at one and Rahane mistimed his jump to shell that one. In the very next over, he trapped him LBW only for the batsman to review and DRS showed the ball was missing the leg stump. Bumrah’s relief was short-lived but he kept bowling tight lines, tight lengths, bouncers, yorkers, everything that he had to to take his side home.

When he dismissed Pope, Bumrah became the fastest Indian pacer to 100 Test wickets and it was a tribute to the way he began his Test career, castling AB de Villiers with one that came back in off the pitch.

In the interview with Dinesh Karthik for Sky Cricket, Jasprit Bumrah talked about how fast bowling gives him that kick, that excitement with the crowd right behind him and him really choosing this for the buzz that it provided him. For a Test career that’s just three years old, Bumrah has already produced enough magical moments with the ball, and the one on a flat Oval surface was just another one.

It just encapsulates what he said in the same interview about how he changed his mindset after a poor World Test Championship final, from pondering a lot, putting a lot of undue pressure on himself to not thinking too far ahead of himself in terms of his performances, his impact and how he just wanted to stay in the present.

He has eventually ended up making the biggest impact any pace bowler has had for India in recent times. He’s led the attack admirably well in tough situations and India will be thanking their stars that they have Jasprit Bumrah in their side and are not facing him out in the middle.

As for the win at The Oval, Rohit Sharma may have been the Man of the Match for his superlative effort with the bat at the top of the order, but as long as Bumrah can take care of his body, run in and just produce this magic spells on such days, India is going to sleep easy and that’s a welcome change for a nation that’s dreaded away Tests more than anything in their history of Test cricket.

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