IND ENG Bumrah

In the few seconds it took for the ball to leave Jasprit Bumrah’s hands and reach Ollie Pope it had turned into a fireball. From the moment it was released, it seemed to have only one purpose — to explode. On search engines, this is the delivery that AI would put out as an example for reverse-swinging yorker. In a spell on either side of tea that read 6-4-3-3 , and included wickets of Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, Bumrah shoved England out of the way to seize a 143-run lead for India.

If facing an all-time freak isn’t hard enough, Pope had to do so while factoring the reverse-swing as well in the 28th over of the innings. He probably doesn’t know which side the shine of the ball is. Even if he had a vague idea, he can’t be certain which side the ball is going to shape once it lands. He has a split second to figure all of this and protect his wicket. Having seen Joe Root being worked out and having withstood a storm himself a week ago in Hyderabad of Bumrah, he has to do it all over again. He doesn’t even resemble the batsman who made 196 runs a week ago.

As the fireball got more and more closer, curving ferociously inwards, Pope knew this was a meteor, and he braced for the inevitable. To his credit there was nothing else he could have done better to preserve his wicket but this wasn’t just another yorker, where he was beaten for pace.

It was delivered from almost a seventh stump line, with the shiny side pointing inwards, and the ball moving in threatening to take the toes with it. That Pope was alert enough to see how far it is moving in was itself commendable. He tried to use his bat valiantly, but the nature of the beast – the reverse swing – meant the ball started to dip on him at the worst possible moment. The bat was of no use now. It had already sneaked past it. He did his best to take out his right-toe before the middle and leg stumps were uprooted in the most devastating manner possible.

“In reverse swing you don’t have to bowl magical deliveries every ball,” Bumrah would explain as to how he set up Pope. “I had bowled a few away going deliveries and then there was a thought going on in my head as to what do I bowl now? Should I bowl a length delivery coming in or should I go for a yorker? But I had not bowled a yorker till then. I thought okay might as well take a chance with that and it did swing a lot. The execution was good. Very happy with that,” Bumrah said.

It was a day where Bumrah showed all his worth and might. He may not yet have the numbers to put him in the GOAT list yet, but there is a compelling case. On a day where he took six game-changing wickets, his average at home reads 12.80. In conditions where spinners are supposed to dictate terms, he has out-bowled them, by taking pitch out of equation. “In first class cricket if you want to take wickets in India you have to learn to bowl reverse swing. Probably I learned to bowl reverse swing before the conventional swing because you play a lot of cricket on slow wickets. So you understand what you have to do over here,” Bumrah said. That’s some jaw dropping line: learnt reverse before conventional – in Bumrah’s zany world it fits perfectly too.

When Rohit Sharma threw the ball to Bumrah, who bowled four overs for 24 runs with the new ball, it was more of an SOS call. With every passing over as Zak Crawley kept creaming boundaries after boundaries, India’s intent was beginning to dip, body language hardly inspiring. And when Mukesh Kumar found some reverse-swing in the lone over he sent in the post-lunch session, Rohit would bring Bumrah back.

Festive offer

In some ways, Bumrah’s takedown of Root was superior to Pope’s dismissal. That was a magic loony of a ball, a slice out of a young kid’s dream. Root’s was working over as an adult. To make him fear about the deadly nipbacker, but keep it in bay to torment him into thinking it’s coming any moment. To keep him on the edge, but eventually not shoving him over but pulling the rug under his feet – a consummate artist at work.

In the first over of that spell, Bumrah would test Pope with a series of good length deliveries that moved either way. Off his next, he would do the same to Joe Root, who by now was worried about the one that cut back in sharp. After playing four deliveries, more concerned about being trapped in front of stumps, Root was unsure which way the fifth was going to move. As this landed around the off-stump channel, Root was almost on the same line, but had already committed to a shot in the hope that it was darting in. But Bumrah, would get this to move out, with Root edging it to the first-slip.

Watching it all unfold was former England captain Alastair Cook. “At Hyderabad, he was playing across the line and got LBW. Early on he saw an in-swinger and played a beautiful straight bat, so he’s trying to do it. But what he does do, you’re looking to play the ball all the time,” Cook told TNT Sports. “Bumrah has realised that and dragged him wider. So you’re trying to cover that but it brings another dismissal into play, so he’s got him out both ways now. Now Root’s in that horrible position that the bowler has got the wood over you, so how are you going to counter it?”

In the next over, Pope would live through what he endured the previous over again. Bumrah would get the reversing ball move all sort of ways, varying his speed and length between full and good length. And then came the 27.5, a ball will find a special place in the cricketing folklore. The game-changing second spell of Bumrah read 4-2-9-2 during which time he took the pitch out of equation.

After getting a breather for three overs, Rohit would bring him back immediately after tea and this time it was Jonny Bairstow to experience what Root and Pope went through. Spread across two overs, he would play out nine straight dot balls. And like Root, he too was more worried about the in-swinger. And as Bumrah got one to straighten, Bairstow pushed it away, like he had been playing the incoming ones and Shubman Gill grabbed a good low catch at first-slip. Ben Stokes and Ben Foakes would ensure there were no more damages in this spell. In a six over burst, Bumrah had figures of 6-4-3-3.

And as England recovered slightly with a 47-run stand between Stokes and Tom Harley after Kuldeep Yadav’s twin strikes, Rohit would bring back Bumrah one for final time. Having sent down in-swingers after in-swingers to Stokes in the previous spell, off the second ball of his new spell, Bumrah would send one that shaped away a little and kept a tad lower than what Stokes seemed to expect and take the off-stump with it. Stokes would give an exasperated reaction wondering ‘what was going on’ as England folded soon after for 253, giving India 143 run lead. What was going on was Bumrah Magic.

By 111 Tech

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