Rejuvenated Bumrah ready to roar again

Making a comeback, the pacer aims to enjoy the game and not have unrealistic goals

Published: 18th August 2023 10:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th August 2023 10:12 AM   |  A+A-

FILE - Ace Indian speedster Jasprit Bumrah will aim to recapture his form upon his return from injury. (Photo | AP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: The ball is firmly gripped in the left-hand as the pacer starts speed-walking from the start of his run-up. A couple of seconds in, he would look at the ball and find the seam to hold it with his bowling arm. The eyes then go up looking straight at his target, the batter. The speed-walking continues for a few more steps before he hops and starts sprinting. Blink twice and the pacer would have delivered a rocket yorker or an accurate bouncer. The batter looks frazzled.

For the better part of the last decade, this has been a familiar, and a rather cherished sight in Indian cricket. And the pacer tormenting the batter was Jasprit Bumrah, until there was a small pause due to injury. Every time he ran in, there was anticipation of a wicket. When his name was on the team sheet, the team got confidence. Format didn’t matter, nor did the stakes of the match. But there was always a concern of injury with his action, which is rather peculiar. And it eventually came at a time when India probably needed him. For the first time in his career, he missed a global event — T20 World Cup last year.

Such was the impact of his absence that the team had to make multiple changes to find a combination that would deliver them wins with more regularity. However, India lost in the semifinal in 2022 and failed to win the World Test Championship this year. Before every series, his return would be the key talking point. It has been 11 months since he last walked out to play for India, and now Bumrah is finally back and will be leading the team in the three-match T20I series starting Friday.

And he is thrilled to say the least. It’s been the longest he has been kept away from the 22 yards and cannot wait to get back. However, the biggest positive for India and him is that he seems to be the same bowler that he was 11 months ago. What little training footage that was shared by the BCCI is a reflection of it. He delivers a sharp bouncer at Ruturaj Gaikwad.

In the other clip, he steams in and launches an accurate yorker that Yashasvi Jaiswal barely manages to dig out. He is not holding back. Bumrah said as much. “I was bowling normally, I’m enjoying it,” he said in the pre-match press conference on Thursday. “I’ve done a lot of net sessions. When my rehab finished and I went home, I practised with the Gujarat state team as well. I’ve had a lot of sessions and practice matches. It’s not like there are any restrictions or I’m holding back.”

As the captain for the series he answered questions with the same pragmatism and clarity as his bouncers and yorkers. For him, the bigger goal is the upcoming ODI World Cup in India. “When you are facing an injury you are trying to solve that problem, not what the world is saying. I wanted to recuperate. You learn to enjoy the game a lot more. I looked at it as an off-season. I got to spend time with my family,” he said.

“At the same time, I missed being away from action. We were mindful of the fact there is no Test cricket till the ODI World Cup. In my rehab, I was not preparing for a T20 game. I was always preparing for the WC. I have been bowling 10, 12 and even 15 overs. We kept that in mind that we are preparing for one-day competition and not a four-over competition. You have to keep working your way up.”

When he takes the field on Friday, it will be not just the team management and selectors but every Indian cricket fan who will be keeping their fingers crossed hoping that he doesn’t get injured. Bumrah, however, isn’t thinking about all that. Throughout the conversation, he keeps repeating two phrases “enjoy the game” and “to not be unrealistic”. Over the next three T20Is, all he wants, and everyone knows will happen, is to run in and give his everything as he always has.

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