Nehra: 'Bumrah will improve over time with the new ball'

Crediting Bumrah as a bowler whose "strength is bowling with the old ball", Nehra spelt out the recipe for bowling well at the death.

Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah

While Ashish Nehra got rid of both the openers to keep India in the game, Jasprit Bumrah showed his prowess of bowling at the death by conceding just 14 runs off the 16th, 18th and the 20th over.   -  Reuters

Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah hardly have anything in common. Nehra, 37, is the oldest member of India’s T20I squad, while 23-year-old Bumrah is one of the youngest. Nehra bowls left-arm pace with one of the most conventional actions, while Bumrah has an uncanny right-arm style, which Nehra describes as “awkward”.

But, when it comes to making the white ball talk, the duo has been combining really well in India’s Blues in the shortest format, forming a reliable pair. The strength of their combination was on display vividly during India’s humdinger against England on Sunday night in Nagpur.

The starkest difference in their bowling abilities was at the fore in the second T20I, which kept the series in balance going into the decider in Bengaluru. Nehra got rid of both the openers to keep India in the game while defending a sub-par total of 144 for eight. Bumrah then showed his prowess of bowling at the death by conceding just 14 runs off the 16th, 18th and the 20th over that he bowled at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium.

“It is not the first time that Jasprit and me are bowling together in the death. It’s always difficult for a bowler to bowl four overs in the death with a wet ball. When I came they needed 32 off four overs, and I knew this has to be over where we have to pull it off. Luckily it happened that over went for five or six and Ben Stokes got out,” said Nehra, who also came back to bowl two tidy overs at the death.

Crediting Bumrah as a bowler whose “strength is bowling with the old ball”, Nehra spelt out the recipe for bowling well at the death. “As a bowler, you have to keep backing yourself mentally in the death. You practice the skills in the nets, but I personally feel as a bowler it is mental toughness that counts,” he said.

Ever since he earned India’s ODI and T20I caps in Australia at the start of 2016, Bumrah has been a reliable bowler at the death, a void in India’s armoury for quite awhile. But, Nehra was confident Bumrah can even improve his bowling at the start of the innings.

“I have always seen in Indian cricket a bowler being tagged as a new ball or only a death bowler. Everyone is different. If you ask an opener to bat at No. 6, he won’t really succeed,” said Nehra.

“I am not saying Jasprit Bumrah can’t bowl with the new ball, he will improve over time, but his strength is bowling with the old ball where he bowls well. In 50-over games, he bowls at least four overs at the death. Even today he bowled three overs after the 15th, which is a big task. It’s never easy to bowl the 16th, 18th, 20th over in T20s, especially in such games.”