Why Jasprit Bumrah is as valuable to Indian cricket as Virat Kohli
Without a doubt, Virat Kohli is the biggest star in Indian cricket at the moment. From captaincy to fans, from endorsements to following, Kohli is perhaps a greater celebrity than any Bollywood star in the country currently.
In a cricket-crazy nation like India, and amidst billions speculating and critically evaluating every move of his, Kohli has continued to deliver over and over again. So much so, that he is now likened to The God of Cricket, Sachin Tendulkar himself.
Kohli's sheer dedication and hunger to get better irrespective of all that he has achieved in itself renders him thoroughly deserving of all the accolades he has earned.
However, in Indian cricket today, there is one person who is almost as vital and important if not more - Jasprit Bumrah.
Bumrah grabbed eyeballs when he played for his IPL side Mumbai Indians. Having mastered the tricks from one of the most successful limited overs bowlers, Lasith Malinga, Bumrah was an immediate success in T20.
However, Bumrah didn't start out as someone with a lot of variations. He had an effective yorker, a deceptive slower one, a decent bouncer and a stock delivery on length which mostly jagged in off his action. Add to this the peculiar action he possessed, and most pundits believed he would be a momentary sensation that would look good for a while and soon fade off. (Remember Sohail Tanvir from the first edition of the IPL?)
What they didn't know though was that Bumrah was a quick learner and that he was hungry to get better. He was never someone who was shy of putting the hard yards in.
So with time, he developed his in-swinger to the right-hander as he got the movement to be more pronounced and controlled. He also developed the one that swung back or at least straightened enough from the angle to go straight across the left-hander after coming in with the angle.
The most notable impact of that was borne by the left-handed Keaton Jennings as he attempted to leave a delivery that was expected to move well outside off owing to the angle, but straightened and pinged him right in front of the stumps on the pads.
Two years after his debut, Bumrah is already considered the best limited overs pacer going around. And within the course of 9 Test matches (including the current one which he is a part of), Bumrah has become India's go-to pacer in the longer format as well.
As Harsha Bhogle described it, Bumrah is the poster boy of the Indian bowling attack - fast, accurate and immensely effective.
At present there are two names that are first jotted down on any selection sheet for the Indian team irrespective of the conditions, nature of the wicket and the format of the game. One is Virat Kohli and the other is Jasprit Bumrah.
He probably doesn't earn as much, does not endorse as many brands and perhaps doesn't have as many fans and followers as Kohli, because cricket is a batsman's game and India a batting country.
But Bumrah is as valuable to the Indian team as Kohli. And just like the latter, he thoroughly deserves to be recognized for that.