Bazball meets its match in the ‘magic’ of Bumrah

Bumrah went wide off the crease to create angles and operated with pinpoint accuracy to torment the batters

Reuters
Published : 6 Feb 2024, 10:58 AM
Updated : 6 Feb 2024, 10:58 AM

England came prepared for the usual trial by spin that greets touring sides in India but a "magical" seam-bowling masterclass by Jasprit Bumrah in Visakhapatnam saw their hopes of victory in the second Test vanish into thin air.

To deal with the expected conditions, England picked spin-heavy attacks complemented by a lone fast bowler both in Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. The frequency with which their batters played the sweep shots also indicated their resolve to conquer the spin challenge.

And after their spinners accounted for 18 of India's 20 wickets en route to winning the first Test, the tourists would have been anticipating another spin-fest in Visakhapatnam.

What they probably did not expect is that Bumrah would emerge as their main threat despite having hardly any assistance from the pitches so far in the series.

Armed with an unorthodox sling-shot action and a reversing ball, Bumrah went wide off the crease to create angles and operated with pinpoint accuracy to torment the batters.

His 9-91 on a spin-friendly track saw him named Player of the Match, despite Yashasvi Jaiswal's maiden double hundred.

Bumrah's domination of England's top batters particularly stood out in India's series-levelling victory.

Joe Root has become Bumrah's "bunny", the England batter falling to the Indian for the eighth time in Test cricket and prompting former England captain Alastair Cook to say he feared it had become a "mental game".

But Bumrah saved his best for England vice captain Ollie Pope, whose match-winning 196 in Hyderabad is considered the best knock by a visiting batter in India.

The jaw-dropping yorker which splattered Pope's stumps will be talked about for a long time.

The seamer also castled Ben Stokes with another delivery that prompted the England captain to drop his bat and shake his head in disbelief.

"Sometimes you can be critical of your own team ... But sometimes you also have to just doff your cap to the opposition and say they were touched by genius," former England captain Nasser Hussain told Sky Sports.

"That spell from Bumrah in England's first innings was genius," he said, referring to Bumrah's 6-45.

"I think, really, it was just the magic of Jasprit Bumrah that was the difference."

Former captain Sourav Ganguly said India did not need turning tracks to win Tests at home when they have pacers of the calibre of Bumrah and Mohammed Shami, who missed the first two Tests with an ankle injury.

England, who are off to Abu Dhabi for a short break, are likely to wonder what Bumrah has up his sleeve for the third Test in Rajkot, which begins on Feb 15.