World Cup: Bumrah keeps getting better and better, says Rhodes

Jonty Rhodes spent nine years as fielding coach at Mumbai Indians, observing at first hand the evolution of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya from unknowns to international stars.

Jonty Rhodes in Bengaluru on Saturday.   -  Sudhakara Jain

Jonty Rhodes spent nine years as fielding coach at Mumbai Indians, observing at first hand, the evolution of Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya from unknowns to international stars.

His delight at their progress is unmistakable. “It’s amazing how quickly Bumrah went from understudy to Malinga to ‘Malinga superior’ at the death,” he said here on Saturday.

“It literally happened over a season. It does help that he had Malinga as a mentor, and Shane Bond as a bowling coach. Bond was a thinking fast bowler, and good with the basics. Bumrah just keeps getting better and better; he hasn't reached a plateau yet. That is awesome.”

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Hardik had learnt a lot from his poor 2016 IPL season, Rhodes felt. “Krunal Pandya had burst on to the scene, and Hardik took a backseat. And I said to Hardik, 'This will be your biggest test. Because if you can bounce back from being dropped for your brother when you are the rockstar of Mumbai Indians...[you will go a long way].’ And he handled it really well,” he said.

Rhodes added: “To see his progress has been awesome. Because he's had a lot of distractions off the field, which could quite easily have dragged him down. He's stepped once or twice close to the line. But he’s a sensible boy from a sensible family.”  There were distractions on the field to think about too, Rhodes joked.

“As a fielding coach, when the crowd gets going, 30,000 people at the Wankhede, I'm always worried about Hardik's focus. Is he watching himself on the big screen? Is he waving to the girls, the guys? Is he worried about his hat or his hair? But he focuses, man. He's hungry. He and his brother.”