While fast bowler Jasprit Bumrah’s form with the ball has been one of the major takeaways for the Indian cricket team from this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL), his real test will come during the ODI series in Australia this month.
Bumrah, who finished as 2020 IPL’s second most successful bowler with 27 wickets, had been picking wickets in T20 Internationals even prior to Covid-19 lockdown. But his tally in the ODIs wasn’t impressive. In short, in ODIs this year, he hasn’t looked as much of a wicket-taker as he was before returning from injury.
The right-arm bowler suffered a back injury last year and did not play a single international in 2019 after the tour of West Indies in August where he had played only the Tests.
When he came back to international cricket this January and February, his performance was a contrast in the two limited-overs formats — ODIs and T20Is.
While he picked wickets in T20 Internationals — eight in eight games with an economy rate of 6.38, which was better than his career economy rate — he struggled to take wickets in the ODIs. He got just one wicket in six ODIs and conceded at 5.1 runs an over, slightly higher than his overall ODI economy rate of 4.55.
Former India captain Gautam Gambhir has said that Bumrah was capable of beating the defences of even those batsmen looking to play him off. This observation has seemed possible more in T20 format, considering his recent record in ODIs where he has struggled to pick wickets.
Former India all-rounder Madan Lal, who was part of the 1983 World Cup-winning team, heaped praise on Bumrah saying that no one could play him easily through the IPL.
“Although Rabada has taken more wickets, no one has been able to play Jasprit easily. Also, he has taken crucial wickets,” said Lal.
Lal, however, said that the difference in the number of wickets he got in T20Is and ODIs this year is because of the nature of the formats.
Lal says that batsmen tend to see a good bowler off in ODI cricket whereas in T20 cricket they cannot afford to do that.
“He is a wicket-taking bowler, no doubt. But in 50 overs, the batsmen can adjust. He knows that it is a 10-over spell. There are 40 more overs. In the 20-over format, there are fewer overs. If the batsman halts his run-scoring for three-four overs, the entire game is finished. In 50 overs, you have time. Batsman can adjust. You can endure a spell of 4-5 overs without scoring much. In T20, the batsman has to try to hit every ball,” he said.
The batsmen, which included Australians, have managed to see him off in the last six ODIs. He conceded runs at 5.10 which is decent but slightly more than his career economy rate of 4.55 while his average — balls per wicket — was 287, way too high than his career average of 24.43.
A look at two of his best spells this season — 4/14 vs DC in Qualifier 1 and 4/20 vs RR in a league encounter — shows that while the batsmen found it difficult to score off him, most of his wickets in the two games came while they were trying to go on the attack.
Bumrah, however, feels he has found his rhythm especially after the SuperOver against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB).
“From the first game, I felt my rhythm was up but the last piece in the jig-saw puzzle was missing. When I bowled the Super Over here, there was some anxiety towards the end, but when I bowled that Super Over, I could execute against AB and Virat. Since then, my confidence went up.”
It remains to be seen how he fares in Australia and if he can repeat this IPL form Down Under.