Melbourne, Skipper Virat Kohli rated Jasprit Bumrah as the “best (fast) bowler in the world” and someone even he would have been “scared to face” on a bouncy Perth wicket.
Courtesy Bumrah’s match haul of 9 for 86, India beat Australia by 137 runs in the third Test to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
“Jasprit obviously is the best bowler in the world, as per me. He is a match winner, without doubt, even if he has only been playing (Test cricket) for 12 months,” Kohli was lavish in his praise for the Gujarat bowler, who has taken 48 wickets in his memorable season in Test cricket.
The skipper then paid a rare compliment which possibly is the one that the pacer would treasure for the rest of his life.
“I mean if there was a pitch like Perth, I wouldn’t want to face Jasprit Bumrah to be honest because if he gets on a roll, he can really crank it up. The way he bowls is so much more different to anyone and I think he realizes that more than the batsmen. That’s why he is so confident about his skills,” the skipper said.
Kohli said that it was Bumrah’s “amazing fitness levels and work ethic” along with skill set that prompted him and coach Ravi Shastri to seriously consider him for the Test series in South Africa.
Talk about Bumrah’s transformation from a white-ball bowler to a match-winner in red-ball cricket, Kohli said:”I think the fact that he was showing amazing levels of energy and fitness in white-ball cricket and hence he was so good because he was not giving runs with the new ball.
“He was getting wickets; he would come back in the death overs and not bowl one loose delivery. He was training like he wanted to play Test cricket. He was that obsessed about his fitness levels and his work ethics. So we discussed before South Africa that if we put him as a surprise package he could be lethal if he gets his lines and lengths right,” Kohli explained as to what prompted them to riposte their faith in Bumrah.
The Indian captain feels that it is Bumrah’s mindset of trying to perform without fretting over conditions is what makes him a match winner.
“The mindset he (Bumrah) has is what separates him from anyone else in the world right now. He looks at the pitch and he doesn’t think it’s a hard toil on these wickets. He thinks how can I take make a breakthrough for the team and your mindset separates you from the rest,” the skipper said.
What has specially caught the skipper’s imagination is Bumrah’s bullishness when it comes to aiming for the jugular.
“He is as strong headed as I have seen anyone in the past and that’s the key to his success, and that’s what I have seen in the past 12 months. The way he has matured and the areas he has bowled so quickly in his Test career I think it’s a scary sign for the batsmen around the world,” Kohli had a word of caution for batsmen around the world.”
The skipper revealed that the bowling strategy is primarily set by the bowlers themselves and as a skipper he only communicates a ‘Plan B’ if necessary.
“To be honest, in bowlers’ meeting, I usually just sit and listen. It is very important to understand what the bowlers are thinking. And then in that process you think of plan B, and you communicate that to the bowlers. That’s how we operate.
“But the fact that the bowlers are all the time dictating those meetings is how you win Test matches away from home. At the end of the day, they are running in with the ball so they need to be confident with their fields, where they are pitching, the pace of the wicket, how they can bowl dot balls and how they can get wickets.”
The pace trio of Ishant Sharma, Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have together taken 134 wickets in away Tests in a single calender year, which is more than West Indies trio of Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Malcolm Marshall.
“That fact that they have taken total ownership of their skill and taken responsibility for the team is what has set them apart this calendar year. Results are there for everyone to see. It is not just talk, you know, they have put the numbers on the board. It is a collective effort,” he said, about the bowling unit.
It is the team that comes first, which also evident in Bumrah’s interview and how the wickets were evenly distributed between the quartet that also included Ravindra Jadeja.
“Even Bumrah’s team interview post game was all about how could I contribute to the team. That fact that he didn’t get any wickets in Perth and the way he bowled there, he didn’t lose heart, and he knew wickets are going to come at some stage.
“And if you see the other bowlers, they are not trying to outdo someone else. If Bumrah is taking wickets, they are containing runs. If someone is picking wickets, Bumrah comes in and does his job. So does Jadeja. So does Ashwin. It is a team effort at the end of the day. When it comes together nicely, when it gets you results, it feels wonderful because you play cricket to win and get results,” the proud skipper said.