World Cup 2019: The X-factor called Jasprit Bumrah

Ahead of his maiden World Cup match, renowned bowling coach T.A. Sekhar decodes why it is tough to face him; Robin Singh, from the class of ‘99, says he has “matured.”

Batsmen find it hard to gauge the origin of the Jasprit Bumrah's delivery pre-release, when both the arms are in the air for split seconds. The left one rises like a pointed gun, while the delivery arm holds the cherry higher up. The arm interplay causes optical illusion for the batter.   -  AP/AFP

Jasprit Bumrah’s yorkers earned him fat pay cheques in the IPL. Now the pace express has a cruel bouncer and a range of troublesome deliveries. The rare action brought him prosperity in the need for speed business.

Batsmen find it hard to gauge the origin of the delivery pre-release, when both the arms are in the air for split seconds. The left one rises like a pointed gun, while the delivery arm holds the cherry higher up. The arm interplay causes optical illusion for the batter. And Bumrah can bowl six different deliveries in an over; flexible lengths, express speed as well as deceptive slow cutters — his bag is full of what you don’t want as a batsman.

READ: Bumrah - John Wright and MI’s great find

On Wednesday, Bumrah is set to make his maiden World Cup appearance against South Africa at the Hampshire Bowl. Renowned fast bowling coach T.A. Sekhar — who saw his rise from Mumbai Indians to the World No.1 ODI bowling rank — feels the unique action of Bumrah is Team India’s X-factor.

“His action is natural. Not anybody can take Bumrah as a role model as his action is rare. I have not seen such an action in my coaching career of more than 32 years. Even in that action, he is accurate and he hasn’t leaked too many runs. Bumrah is difficult to read with his action. He has the X-factor,” Sekhar told Sportstar ahead of India’s Cup opener in Southampton.

Adding varieties

Dr Simon Feros, a lecturer in functional anatomy, strength and conditioning sciences, studied Bumrah’s action a couple of months ago. He had concerns over the 45 degree-angle of trunk lateral flexion.

“Bumrah tends to release the ball outside the line of the front foot. This means he can 'push' at the ball, usually resulting in an excellent in-swing delivery to a right hand batter.

READ: Bumrah among Lee’s top three quicks

“However, if he exceeds 45 degrees of trunk lateral flexion (which I think he may on some occasions), then this element of his action may pose some injury concerns to his lumbar vertebrae," he was quoted as saying by PTI.

Sekhar reasoned how the 25-year-old managed to stay injury-free despite the tricky action. “Everyone thought he will have lot of injuries but his body posture has become much better now. He has added a lot of variations. He always had a very good yorker, now he has a lethal bouncer and bowls the back of length delivery very well,” he said.

The pace combination

Mohammed Shami is a big match player. The pacer recorded the best bowling average (17.29) among Indians in World Cups appearing in just one edition. Swing king Bhuvneshwar Kumar — who had an injury-plagued World Cup 2015 — will be looking for chances. Bumrah’s inclusion is a further boost.

“It is a great variety, and a potent bowling attack. Bhuvneshwar has played in England and knows the conditions. He can move the ball. Shami can bowl a good pace of 140 kmph and above. He is in good rhythm. He can also reverse the ball.

World Cup fifers

Kapil Dev: 5/43 against Australia in 1983

Robin Singh: 5/31 against Sri Lanka in 1999

Venkatesh Prasad: 5/27 against Pakistan in 1999

Ashish Nehra: 6/23 against England in 2003

Yuvraj Singh: 5/31 against Ireland in 2011

 

“Bumrah is a thinking bowler, and not a run-of-the-mill fast bowler. He can read the batsmen, as well as the conditions, very well. He proved everybody wrong in Tests. People thought he may not succeed in Tests but he has 49 wickets. Every batsmen who has played him has not been able to read him properly. The selectors have picked the right combination. Apart from Australia, India has got the most potent attack,” added Sekhar.

Reverse swing

World Cup fifers are special. Only five Indian bowlers have it; Robin Singh is one of them. The right-arm medium pacer, who returned with figures of 5/31 against Sri Lanka in the Cricket World Cup 1999 in Taunton, believes reverse swing still holds the key in the age of belter wickets.

A short spell in overcast conditions can change the course of a match in the UK. Singh also highlights the fitness quotient of the current Indian side.

“I think Indian fast bowlers will do well because most of them are very fit. If they can bowl reverse swing, that will be a big factor in England.

Bumrah is quite a mature bowler now. The two guys who can make a difference with the new ball as well as the old ball is Bumrah and Shami,” he said.

Best of Indian bowlers in World Cups

Best economy: Bishan Singh Bedi (2.46)

Best average: Mohammed Shami (17.29)

Most wickets: Zaheer Khan (44) and Javagal Srinath (44)

Best bowling in an innings: Ashish Nehra (6/23) against England in 2003

Best strike-rate: Umesh Yadav (21.4)

Most wickets in a World Cup: Zaheer Khan (21) in 2011