The day you get your first international run is a very special day in the lives of cricketers. Even more so, when you’re made to wait a long time for it. Jasprit Bumrah scored his first international run yesterday, in his 40th international game. However, it was a day to forget and a day he would quickly like to erase from his memory.
Since he made his debut around 18 months ago, Bumrah has been a revelation in international cricket. His uncanny action, a perfect yorker, a slower ball that would make Malinga proud and the pace he generates from the last two yards of his action has made him a wily operator in the limited overs format.
In an era, where 300 is the new par score in ODIs, Bumrah operates at less than 5 per over and less than 7 an over in T20Is, this, despite being the captain’s go-to bowler in the death overs in every single game!
Earlier this year, in the IPL, Bumrah had bowled a spectacular super over to two of the most dangerous batsmen in world cricket, Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch. He had 11 to defend and he did this with ease by mixing up the yorkers and the slower balls, allowing the batsmen to touch the ball only twice. But he had also bowled a no-ball and a wide, which was forgotten because of the brilliance that followed. Earlier that night, Bumrah had scalped the prized wickets of Raina and Faulkner, but he had also bowled two no-balls, which if erased would’ve meant that the match needn’t have gone to the Super Over.
Yesterday, in the finals of the Champions Trophy, Bumrah was having a bad day. He had done his homework and wanted to choke Fakhar Zaman for width. Barring a wide down the leg side, he kept Pakistan’s dangerous opener quiet in the first over. He started the second over with another wide down the leg side. And then, he got the big fish! A ball that held its line and just did enough to nick the left hander’s bat.
But, alas! He had overstepped.
The reprieve that Pakistan wanted and a match changing one. Fakhar went on to score a gritty hundred while Pakistan scored a mammoth 338. Bumrah went on to bowl 3 more wides and a couple more no-balls. His figures read 9-0-68-0.
A bad day is bound to happen to anyone and I wouldn’t be too critical of Bumrah, but his habit of overstepping is what concerns me. Bumrah has bowled 13 no-balls in 16 ODIs, the most by any bowler in the time since he has made his debut. A sin in the modern day game! Small errors like these can cost your team trophies, like it cost India the World T20 in 2016, and now the Champions Trophy.
One fine characteristic of Bumrah is his ability to take the criticism in his stride, and I do hope he does come back stronger, just like he does when the batsman is all set for a free-hit! If taken care of well, he will be a fine, fine bowler for India in the next decade.