When talks of England coming to India were in full bloom, experts and analysts were preparing to hurl mud at the Indian tracks, knowing very well that they would fall flat against the might of the Indian spinners on the rank-turners that have always been the highlight of the Indian pitches. However, if they were not prepared for something, that was the Houdini of modern fast bowling, Jasprit Bumrah.
Does the name Harry Houdini ring a bell or two? Well, let’s elucidate who he really was. He was the man who could snap out of a straitjacket as if he were waddling through the park for an early morning promenade. And he was a magician too. The best at it, actually. In today’s piece though, he is just a metaphor, dishing out a silver platter for Jasprit Bumrah to stand on and thump his chest in pride.
Well, when we talk about magicians in cricket, we are either referring to the wily turners, the Godly Warnes or the imposing Tendulkars. Whenever we have talked about fast bowlers, whether it was the Whispering Death or the mighty Wasim Akram, we have always linked to the Enforcers, the Conquistadors, and even at times, the speed cannons.
Jasprit Bumrah, to be honest, is a blend of both. When we talk about the speed guns, he brutalizes them to a staggering 145 clicks on every alternate delivery or let’s say thrice an over, depending on how he packages the entire set. And when it comes to magic, he would occasionally bring out those reverse outswingers or impart his wily reverse swing to leave a batter diametrically gobsmacked.
Why are we saying so? Let’s take a quick glance at the wickets that he got in the second innings. The first one was that of the menacing Jonny Bairstow but that felt like pretty straightforward stuff. When I say straightforward it doesn’t mean the batter walked up to him and gifted the wicket away on a silver platter. All it means is that it was customary fast-bowling voodoo. Straight delivery onto the pads and the ball would clip the leg-stump, and Bob’s your uncle.
The magic though came when he claimed his second scalp of the day. It was Ben Foakes who was expecting all those brutal speeds and stuff to derail him to the neck and there comes Bumrah with a slower one, the wily off-cutter and Foakes was already halfway into his shooting star stride and the next thing we know is that Bumrah and the Indian concourse was leaping in frenzy.
When you have already hit an overture that has left the audience in awe, disbelief and most importantly in an admiration never felt before, something that kids probably can understand when they see the light of the day for the first time, that untold feeling of joy for which that born kid has no words, the crescendo cannot be just a glass-shattering one. It should birth a supernova and guess what Jassi? Hell, it did! That last wicket of Tom Hartley was magic, was cosmic, and was stuff that would probably bag a spot on the poster if we ever had an intergalactic match-up maybe? A half-tracker, staying flat and reverse outswing left Hartley on his toes and the very first nick with his pads should have cemented the victory but just in case, the ball went on to rattle the timbre, imparting India their series-levelling win.
That’s that then? Yes, it is. Bumrah, the Enforcer, the Houdini, the Conquistador left England brutalized in the heart of Vizag, sending in a message to the fans that he means business. Beware Bazball. Beware.