India’s battery of fast bowlers in the just-ended series was far superior to any pace attack they have put on show in England. Repeatedly, they pushed the home side back with an abundance of skills. Funnily though, in a series where the swinging ball produced so many wickets, a six-over spell with a scruffy Dukes ball on what turned out to be the final day of the series stood out as the most devastating.
On Day 5 of The Oval Test, England No.3 Dawid Malan had just returned to the dressing room after being run out when Jasprit Bumrah came on to bowl with a 60-overs old ball. It made “a great watch” even from the opposing change room.
England pacers had struggled for assistance on what appeared a flat pitch. Their India counterparts though had worked on the ball with Ravindra Jadeja’s long spell of left-arm spin, landing the ball on the rough, repeatedly on one side.
When there was a hint of reverse swing, Bumrah asked skipper Virat Kohli to give him the ball. He took two wickets though with luck he could have had four. At the end of that sensational spell (6-3-6-2), England’s resolute plans had been shaken up.
“That Bumrah spell was the difference on day 5,” Malan said in an interview. “The best bowlers, the best batters stand up when it matters. He stood up at that time for his country.”
Bumrah’s game sense has got even his opponents raving. “His pace was a lot quicker in that spell than it was in the first spell he bowled that morning, which just shows when he has sniffed an opportunity…he took that you know, that’s what good bowlers do,” Malan said while promoting Gonuts, a celebrity commerce platform.
While Ollie Pope became Bumrah’s 100th Test victim, castled by an incoming delivery, the yorker to Jonny Bairstow from wide of the crease that swung in late to shatter the stumps will be long remembered. There was nothing in the pitch for the fast bowler and the ball was old. It was another Bumrah effort ball that took the pitch out of the equation.
“I was not out there but it was great watching,” said Malan. “It wasn’t great to see him taking wickets, but a great watch…how he was bowling, moving the ball both ways at that pace, bowling yorkers and bouncers…it was a hell of a spell of fast bowling.”
Even with Malan’s uncomplicated technique, standing upright with minimum trigger movements, the batsman says Bumrah forces one to make small tweaks. “He is very different. When he runs in, that’s a challenge for me, for someone who taps…to work out when to tap my bat,” he said. “He has got unbelievable skills. He can bowl 90 miles per hour and hit you on the head or knock your poles out if he wants to. He asks so many questions.
“His angles are all so different at the crease which makes it all the more challenging and tough to get used to. So, it’s just about trying to find a way to be able to blunt him when he is having one of those really good spells.”
With the series having ended prematurely and Malan having pulled out of IPL, his next encounter with Bumrah could be in the T20 World Cup. “He is challenging with any ball in hand, to be honest. He has been one of the best in the world, closing out games so well even with the white ball,” said the No.1 ranked batter in T20 cricket.
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