Nehra’s guidance has been valuable: Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah had a great initiation to cricket in 2016. His awkward, whippy action and ability to reel off yorkers at death almost at will turned him into an indispensable member of India’s white-ball sides. The 23-year-old seamer went on to feature in eight One-Day Internationals and 23 Twenty20 Internationals in 2016, before going on to play a pivotal role (24 wickets from 7 games at 21.75) in Gujarat’s maiden Ranji Trophy triumph.
It was all hunky dory till the lanky seamer faced his first big challenge in international cricket during the three one-dayers against England. His five wickets in the series came at a heavy price. His yorkers transformed into hit-me full tosses and the slower balls sat up nicely for the batsmen to club. In Pune he was plundered for 81, Cuttack cost him 79 and Kolkata 68. There were murmurs about reinstating Umesh Yadav in his place but Virat Kohli and Co. were willing to give him the space to learn. It had, after all, been a difficult series for all bowlers.
It paid off because Bumrah was instrumental in India forcing a decider with their Nagpur victory. The youngster proved he was a quick learner after his first two overs cost 16. On a two-paced wicket on which run scoring had been difficult throughout, those were costly figures. Then he atoned for his mistakes with a stunning 18th over that cost only three before defending eight off the final over.
Ashish Nehra, the 37-year-old veteran, has been the perfect sounding board in Bumrah’s rise. Even in the tense final over in Nagpur, it was Nehra who Bumrah turned to for advice on the areas to hit. “He has always been helpful. We have played in the World T20 together too, so his guidance has always been valuable for me,” Bumrah said.
“He has played a lot of matches in international cricket, so he has a lot of experience. In tough situations, he tells us ‘you can do this, or do that,’ depending on the match situation.”
This is not to say, however, that Bumrah is not alwaysaverse to self ideating. He knows, for instance, that his strategy to hit the deck with the length or the back of the length deliveries will not work in Bengaluru, the venue for the T20I decider. “In the previous match, we were playing in a bigger ground and the wicket was on the slower side. So, over there, the back of length and slower deliveries become key.
“But when we play in a smaller ground, the back of length deliveries and slower ones have a higher chance of going for runs. So we can not go in with a general idea, and it is important to bowl as per the wicket, to be honest,” he said.
Most importantly, Bumrah understands that there are areas for improvement. The fielding has been suspect but a more nagging and pertinent issue has arisen with his overstepping transgressions. Twice in the limited-overs series, his wicket celebrations have been prematurely cut off by the overstepping problem. On both occasions, in Kolkata and Kanpur, the batsmen in question (Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root) contributed significantly to England’s victories.
“Ive been working on that. I worked with Anil [Kumble] sir also in the last match, before that… Measure your run-up and work something with the tape. Im working on it and hopefully Ill get some control on it,