Bengaluru, September 1: Soon after the TV umpire confirmed the leg before appeal against Roston Chase, Ian Bishop let out his excitement: "Third hat-trick for an Indian in Test match cricket and it could not have been gone to a more special bowler."
Bishop could not have been closer to truth either. Jasprit Bumrah is a marvel. He has an unorthodox action that makes it tough for batsmen to pick him, he can bowl consistently at 140+ clicks and he is as accurate as a laser-guided weapon. You would not often find these traits meeting in one bowler but are they the only reasons for his success?
Bharat Arun, who was reappointed as India's bowling coach recently, shed some light into the secret. Bumrah is a skilful bowler. "He is aware of the situations and he has adjusted himself beautifully to every situation. Even if you see the lengths he bowled in the first and the second innings (at Antigua in the first Test), it is obviously a lot different. He has pitched the ball a lot more up and he was getting appreciable movement (in the second innings when he picked up a fifer)."
\The keyword here is situational awareness and the series against the West Indies offered a prime example. At North Sound, Bumrah relied on outswingers to purchase his wickets, an astonishing 5/7 in 8 overs, the fourth best figure during a five-wicket haul while conceding fewer runs.
Down a week at Sabina Park, Jamaica, Bumrah changed his stock ball from outswinger to inswinger and again claimed five wickets including a hat-trick. It, perhaps, fell into the fitness of things that he bowled at a stadium where the ends were named after two greats -- Courtney Walsh and Michael Holding.
If you check the cricketing history, not many bowlers possessed the skill to swing the ball both ways and that too at a high pace. James Anderson and Bhuvneshwar Kumar can swing it both ways but they don't hover around the 90 mph mark like Bumrah does often.
A bowler no less than Curtly Ambrose was left impressed with Bumrah's bowling. "He's good at varying his lengths, depending on the surfaces and batsmen. I saw that in the World Cup, how he adjusted his lengths according to the conditions and batsmen. That makes life difficult for batsmen. He reminds me a bit of Courtney (Walsh) a bit..
"At times, he rekindles memories of our prime. The pace, aggression, the hostility, the craft. The way he outclasses the batsmen, the way he outthinks them. He could have been one of us, he's so complete a bowler that he could have played in any era," said Ambrose recently.
A quick glance back will tell us that Bumrah has so far played Tests in South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies and has taken 61 wickets from 12 Tests at an average of 18.86 and at a strike rate of 43. Indeed, he can be a part of any of the legendary pace bowling units of the yore.
And he does all that without much hoopla, if anything a sheepish smile flashes across his face. He does not stare at batsmen or confront them verbally and even the celebrations do not exceed a slightly more than gentle pumping of fists and an occasional leap. After completing his five-wicket haul, skipper Virat Kohli had to remind Bumrah to acknowledge the crowd with that customary waving of the ball.
But that silent hostility of Bumrah is even more intimidating. He diverts all the inner aggression into his bowling. The theatre may be absent around Bumrah, but he still offers plenty for us to get hooked onto him. Don't miss the showtime.