'I played one match against MS Dhoni in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and I got him out. He just told me I was doing well and that I should continue to work hard'
'I have learned so much from all the senior bowlers in the Mumbai Indians squad – Lasith Malinga and Zaheer Khan (in 2013)'
In a series in which, batsmen have dominated the bowlers with an unprecedented 3159 runs being scored, including 11 centuries hit by batters of both sides in the five one-day internationals, pacer Jasprit Bumrah seems to have answered captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s distress call in the fifth and final ODI at Sydney.
Conceding only 40 runs for his 2 wickets off his full quota of 10 overs, Bumrah impressed with his pace and discipline, especially in the death overs, when Australia posted a mammoth 331-run target.
But, was it sheer luck that led to the surprise debut of this 22-year-old fast bowler from Gujarat?
According to reports, Bumrah -- picked only for the T20I series in Australia -- was supposed to travel with the rest of players in the squad for the shortest format and join rest of the team in Adelaide -- the venue for first T20I.
But due to unavailability of tickets, the Board of Cricket Control in India had to send the youngster to Sydney.
After a last-minute injury to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, it was expected that another youngster, Barinder Sran, would get a chance to play at the SCG.
Instead, Dhoni bestowed his confidence in Bumrah, who did not disappoint his captain.
“It is a wonderful feeling. I was expecting this since I was on standby,” Bumrah had told BCCI.TV after his surprise call-up in the ODI squad.
Bumrah’s rise to prominence came by in Indian Premier League in the 2013 season, when former India coach John Wright pulled him out of obscurity and put him on the big stage.
Anyone who follows cricket closely will remember his debut match for the Mumbai Indians against batting heavy-weights Royal Challengers Bangalore.
After being hit for three back-to-back boundaries by Virat Kohli, few would have given a chance to the then 19-year-old Bumrah.
But the pacer, who bowls with a whippy action, not only dismissed Kohli, but also followed it up with two more quick wickets.
Bumrah vividly remembers the events that led to him being pencilled into the MI squad.
“That year I wasn’t even expecting to make it to the Ranji Trophy side. I had only played two T20 domestic matches and then suddenly I was in an IPL team. That was a totally unexpected great feeling,” he said.
It was after the IPL that Bumrah made his first-class debut, in the same year, and in 18 matches since then, has 64 wickets to his name at an average of 25.01. In T20s, the pacer has 52 wickets from 47 matches.
The pacer from Gujarat admits that his development as a cricketer began in the Mumbai Indians dressing room, rubbing shoulders with some of the giants of the game.
“The IPL has shaped me as a cricketer. I have learned so much from all the senior bowlers in the Mumbai Indians -- Lasith Malinga, Zaheer bhai (Khan) was with us earlier as well.
“Most of what I have learned has been about preparation and handling pressure in big games.
“These guys have played international cricket, they have played in the World Cups. So, they could tell me what to expect, how to prepare for matches, mentally and physically, what sort of training you should do and things like that.
“It has made me much more confident not only as a cricketer but also as a person.
“Before domestic cricket I played in the IPL. When you do well in a tournament like that, you are more assured in yourself that you will do well on the domestic circuit.”
The pacer has been picked on the back of his solid show in the 2015-16 Vijay Hazare Trophy (India’s premier domestic one-day tournament).
Of his 21 wickets, one was that of Dhoni, and Bumrah did share what the captain of India’s limited overs team told him after the match.
“I played one match against MS Dhoni in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and I got him out. He just told me I was doing well and that I should continue to work hard.”
Thus, apart from his luck, it was this prized wicket, which might have worked in Bumrah’s favour, when he was given a surprise debut in Adelaide.