Melbourne: As a child, Jasprit Bumrah used to believe the only way to get a batsman out was by bowling yorkers. Bumrah's wisdom had been constructed by watching Waqar Younis and Wasim Akram on television from his home in Ahmedabad. His memory has been inundated by the two Pakistan bowlers knocking the stumps out of the ground by searing yorkers. On Friday, Bumrah finished with career-best figures of 6-33, four of the Australian batsmen were dismissed by his potent full delivery. But it is the build-up to the wicket ball and the plans he had conjured that is making Bumrah the most prized commodity across all formats.
Bumrah owes a lot of credit to his Mumbai Indians bowling coach, Shane Bond. It wasn't until the former New Zealand pacer took Bumrah under his wings did he understand the importance of setting up a batsman. In an interview for the show 'What the Duck', Bumrah revealed how it was the wicket of Chris Gayle during the 2016 T20 World Cup that instilled the belief of planning and executing a dismissal in cricket. Bumrah stated how he had always got Gayle out with the slower ball, so he thought about bowling a fast full ball first up. It was an idea he would discuss with bowling coach Bharat Arun the night before the match. Next day, bang, the full ball had taken out Gayle’s off-stump.
Back to the Melbourne Cricket ground, where Bumrah remembered the blow he had inflicted on Marcus Harris with a sharp bouncer in Perth. The short ball might have been easy to duck under in on the fast track in Perth, but on the uneven surface in Melbourne, the bouncer was always going to be difficult to handle. Bumrah would have observed that there were only two options – either to sway or to hook. After drawing him on the front foot with previous three balls, he unleashed a short ball right on the line of leg-stump. Harris had enough of ducking and attempted the hook shot, but the ball had cramped him for room and he could only top-edge it into the hands of fine-leg.
Perhaps the real development of Bumrah was exemplified in the manner he got rid of Shaun Marsh off the last ball before lunch. Marsh was unbeaten on 19, he had faced 61 balls and would have been aware of the toe crusher. The ball was the toe crusher, but only 25km/h slower. It was a beautifully scripted slower ball that dipped late and hit Marsh plumb in front. At the stumps, Bumrah revealed how his Mumbai Indian captain Rohit Sharma encouraged him to attempt the slower ball. The carnage had just started.
The 40-minute lunch interval allowed Bumrah to recharge his batteries. It also enabled him to conjure up a new plan with the older Kookaburra. No longer did he hit the pitch hard, instead, he went for the base of the stumps. The ball was not reverse swinging prodigiously, but enough for Bumrah to realise that he had to change his method of attack. He would have observed the last couple of balls Head had been shuffling across his stumps, so he steamed in and hurled a full ball that Head played all around.
The temperature inside the ground was close to 35 degrees and it was Bumrah had bowled 10 out of India's 28 overs. Fitness is part of his game that goes unnoticed. This was a bowler that had made a smooth transition from white ball cricket to the longer format, but rarely has he had his durability been credited.
After tea, Virat Kohli brought him back into the attack immediately. On his third ball, he managed to kiss the outside edge of Tim Paine's bat to give him his fourth wicket. Once again, he had undone the batsmen with a ball that he was least expecting.
The sight of Nathan Lyon and Josh Hazlewood at the crease and with reverse swinging Kookaburra in his hand, Bumrah's mind would have cast back to the time he was youngster watching Wasim and Waqar uproot stumps with lethal yorkers. Only this time around, it was would be him that will be dishing out treatment. In four balls, he had cleaned up the No 10 and 11 with the delivery that he grew up admiring.
After the day's play, Bumrah was asked the yorker and why he doesn't bowl it as frequently. "It is a little different in Test cricket. In white ball cricket, there are only 10 overs. Yorker takes a lot out of your body. After bowling 25 overs, it is difficult sometimes to execute the yorkers. It is an underrated delivery in Test cricket but I believe you cannot overdo it because it's easier for the batsmen if you get it wrong and easier to score as well. But you can use it in patches and when there is reverse swing it is more effective," he said.
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