Jas Chill! Why India must not fret over Bumrah’s form as yet
Having claimed the T20Is by an authoritative 0-5 margin, India would have been on cloud nine heading into the ODIs. However, it did not take long for them to be brought down to earth again as a professional Kiwi outfit blanked the visitors 3-0. There were many reasons for India’s meltdown against New Zealand in the one-dayers.
The team selection throughout the series bordered on the bizarre. Form players like Manish Pandey were made to sit out while Shardul Thakur kept playing despite never looking threatening. The Indians struggled in all departments of the game, but one of the key factors behind the lacklustre show was Jasprit Bumrah’s wicketless returns.
It is no secret how much Virat Kohli depends on Bumrah to get him the breakthroughs. With Bumrah struggling, and the inexperienced duo of Thakur and Navdeep Saini failing to make an impression, Kohli had no plan B to fall back on. This is the first time since his debut that Bumrah had gone without a wicket in a bilateral ODI series. The stat itself proves how successful the fast bowler has been for India in the format. However, his bowling analysis in his last four ODI assignments read - 0/38, 0/53, 0/64 and 0/50. The man renowned for his yorkers failed to trouble the Kiwis in the recently concluded series.
Are these numbers enough for the Indian think-tank to start worrying about Bumrah though? According to former Indian pacer Zaheer Khan, Bumrah needs to put in extra efforts to get wickets now. Zaheer was quoted as saying in a Cricbuzz report
"When you build a reputation like how Jasprit Bumrah has built now over the years, you will have to fight this. Bumrah is in a phase where teams are saying 'even if we get thirty five runs we are happy with that as long as we are not giving him wickets because then we can attack the other bowlers. That is something which Bumrah will have to understand that he has to be extra aggressive in terms of looking to get those wickets because he knows the batsmen are going to be defensive.”
On the other hand, another ex-India fast bowler Ashish Nehra has defended Bumrah saying he alone cannot be expected to take wickets all the time.
"You can’t expect Bumrah to deliver in every series. One has to remember he is returning from injury. It’s difficult for anybody to keep performing at the top of his game all the time. Even Virat Kohli has had a quiet series." said Nehra to Times of India.
Both Zaheer and Nehra have valid points to make. However, the over-apprehension over Bumrah’s performance is uncalled for, at least for now.
It has only been over a month since he has made his comeback to international cricket after a long injury lay-off following the stress fracture in the lower back. It wouldn’t be wrong to say he is still feeling his way back into international cricket. In this period, he has picked up only one wicket in five ODIs, and eight in seven T20Is.
While his returns in ODIs are not too encouraging, the sample size is way too small to make any sort of conclusion. It is thus shocking to read that some are already starting to write the epitaph of his international career without giving Bumrah a fair run to prove his credentials all over again.
One must understand here that the 26-year-old might not be keen on putting too much stress on his back just as yet. With the kind of action he possesses, bowling constant yorkers would mean putting additional stress on the lower back. This could be one of the reasons Bumrah might be avoiding too many block hole deliveries. Of course, that being his main strength, the fast bowler will have to try out the same on a constant basis sooner rather than later.
But, the bottom-line remains that it is too early to write him off. Given his incredible performances over the last few years, Bumrah has earned that right to be given a slightly longer rope than others.
Published 14 Feb 2020, 22:02 IST