There were three dominating topics in Jasprit Bumrah‘s post-match press conference in Visakhapatnam – reverse swing, first-class cricket and not trying to bowl the magical delivery every ball. In a way, they were kind of enough to portray what he did on Day 2 of the second Test match. Bumrah finished with 6/45 on placid batting at the ACA-VDCA Stadium to help India bowl England out for 253. In the process, Bumrah registered his best figures at home and also became the fastest Indian pacer (in terms of matches) and the fastest Indian (in terms of deliveries bowled) to reach 150 Test wickets.
Reverse swing was his biggest ally on Saturday, which he mastered while playing first-class cricket while also learning not to aim for the magical delivery every ball and instead, try to focus on setting up the batter.
He set up Joe Root, England’s best batter, quite brilliantly, just like he had done in Hyderabad. The only difference, however, was this time, he got Root with the outswing. After mixing up the away-going deliveries and the in-dippers, Bumrah slipped another one going away when Root was expected a big in-swinger like the first Test. The batter ended up poking outside the off stump and was taken in the slips.
The shiny side was inside and the ball went away – a classic case of reverse swing. Bumrah said he learnt the art of reverse swing before the conventional swing in order to become a successful bowler in Indian conditions.
“In first-class cricket, if you wanna take wickets in India, you’ve got to learn reverse swing. Probably I learnt reverse swing before I learnt conventional swing. You play a lot of cricket on slow wickets, you understand what you need to do over here. You have to find a way. You need to figure out the areas you want to hit. In the nets, you practice all those skills and then try and execute the same in matches,” Bumrah told reporters after the day’s play.
But what about the delivery he bowled to Ollie Pope, the Player of the Match of the first Test? The ball started way outside the off stump, started to tail in and by the time, it reached the right-hander, it was on his middle stump. A perfect in-swinging yorker that gave the batter no chance. The decimated stumps behind Pope narrated the entire story.
“The ball was relatively hard and reversing. So when the ball is reversing, you don’t need to bowl magical deliveries every ball. You don’t go inswing outswing every ball. So I bowled a few away-going deliveries then I was thinking what should I bowl next? Should it be a length delivery coming in or should I go for a yorker? I hadn’t bowled a yorker till then so decided to go with the yorker. It did swing a lot, the execution was good so very happy,” Bumrah said.
Was that the best ball of his career? Bumrah says there is more in store. “I’m still playing so hopefully more deliveries will come as I said, I’m very happy as it was very important to get Joe Root and Ollie Pope out at that point,” he said.
Bumrah also got the wickets of Jonny Bairstow, Ben Stokes, Tom Hartley and James Anderson. The 30-year-old said he may not have played a lot of Tests in India – only six – but the hard yards he put in in first-class cricket before his Test debut kept him in good shape.
“When you play abroad, you know the wickets will assist so the number of overs will be more. Over here, I have played less number of Test matches but I have played a lot of first-class cricket. So I go back to those days and think what do I do to get wickets, back my ability, try to find answers. Whenever I play a game, I always try to find to answers to the questions in my mind.”