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Boom, boom bumrah!
Two unknown bowlers, Jasprit Bumrah and Rahul Shukla, hailing from cricketing backwaters, created an immediate impact in the opening week of the IPL
When Jasprit Bumrah bowled his first delivery in this IPL, he was a little off the mark. Virat Kohli was in front of him, and he bowled the next three deliveries with unsettled nerves. Bumrah was taken to the cleaners but after conceding three boundaries in the first four balls, he brought one back in sharply and trapped Kohli right in front. That was it. After that he kept 'His Majesty' Chris Gayle quiet and bagged two more wickets on that day. Suddenly, everybody was talking about this slightly built boy, who with an awkward, open-chested bowling action had taken the cricketing world by surprise.
But people who have seen him from close for the past two years knew that Bumrah, if not anything, had pace. Playing for Gujarat in the U-19 category, he was making waves during the Cooch Behar Trophy in the 2011-12 season when an excited Gujarat Cricket Association (GCA) official called up the local media and asked them to have a look at the youngster.
Rajeev Desai, who was Gujarat's under-19 coach during that period recalls: "This boy was quick and when I say quick, I really mean it. If someone can bowl at close to 140kmph at 18, he has to be a special talent. That most of his victims are either bowled or caught behind the wicket is proof that he has pace. He also can move the ball both ways but his incoming delivery is his best weapon.
"He has a very slow run-up, bowls with an awkward action but is very quick in the air. Many batsmen have fallen prey to this, " says Desai, adding, "He is a wickettaker. No matter the amount of runs he gives, he will also give you those important wickets when he bowls upfront. "
A second-year student of HK Commerce College in Ahmedabad, Jasprit is a little deceptive as far as his run up or open-chested action is concerned because he doesn't look like the conventional fast bowler in the true sense. "He is about 5'11, doesn't have a long run-up or does not possesses a big leap or anything of that sort but he uses his wrist to good effect, " says Kishore Trivedi, father of Saurashtra and Rajasthan Royals seamer Siddharth Trivedi and Bumrah's coach at the Nirman High School Cricket Coaching Centre.
"When I first saw him, I wanted to do few things with his action and run-up but he is naturally so talented that I decided to leave him alone, " says Trivedi, adding, "And as I can see, he was doing nothing wrong. His arms remain straight in the swing and during delivery time there are many bowlers in the world who have unorthodox actions but Jasprit is fast and accurate, so what more do you want. " The coach adds that Bumrah only started taking the game seriously after he attended a summer camp when he was in Class X.
"It comes very naturally to me so I find no difficulty in bowling the way I do, " says Bumrah.
"He started playing at a very young age and would love all aspects of the game but then his interest in bowling began to develop when he began understanding the nuances of the game. We always knew the action and the pace was different than normal bowlers of his age but you never know what the future held so we backed him in every way we could, " says his sister Juhika Bumrah. Juhika and mother Daljit, primary section principal at Nirman High School in Ahmedabad, are the pillars in Jasprit's life after the death of his father some years ago.
"Jasprit is very high on self-belief. It doesn't matter if he gets whacked but he always believes in his ability to come back and take wickets, " says his Gujarat U-19 roommate Chintan Gajja who has spent a considerable time on and off the field with the new pace sensation. It was perhaps this self belief that helped Bumrah come back and take the wicket of Kohli after being thrashed for three boundaries off his first four balls on his IPL debut.
It was former India coach John Wright who first spotted Bumrah and pitchforked him into the Mumbai Indians squad. "Mumbai Indians coach John Wright was talent scouting in Ahmedabad during the West Zone T20s and he was highly impressed with Bumrah, " reveals an MI insider.
"I knew Mr Wright was watching but that was never on my mind. I just played my natural game. And though I didn't pick too many wickets, I bowled pretty well at the death, " says the boy who touched 140 kmph during a camp at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) in Bangalore.
Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel also thinks that Bumrah is a different bowler who has a bright future ahead of him. "He is pretty young but he is quick, has good variety and bowls good yorkers. Bowling tight at the death has been his specialty and he has done that pretty well for us, " says Patel.
All the sudden attention has not distracted the bowler. Juhika is confident that Jasprit will not change much because "he is a very grounded person". Grounded or not, if he keeps bowling the way he does, his cricketing career is surely going to soar high.
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