Sunday, September 1, 2019

Boom: Once in a Lifetime Phenomenon !

India have played 550 plus tests till now. We've had history of flickers of good to fabulous bowling overshadowed by humongous runs piled by run machines like Hazare, Merchant, Tiger Pataudi, Vishwanath, Gavaskar, Mohindar, Azharuddin, Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag and Kohli.

Except for a perfect 10 by Kumble, a couple of test hat-tricks and the legendary spin quartet of the yore, Indian Cricket is an enduring story of batsmen lording over barren brown patches and capitulating like greenhorns on greener surfaces. We always lionised our batsmen or condemned them because we never really had a bowling unit that could claim 20 wickets in overseas tests. Ajit Wadeker and Kapil Dev achieved some success in West Indies and England. But consistent success abroad was a mirage for the Indian fans.

Though Ganguly was the first ever captain to dream big and aim for overseas test wins, he never got the bowlers to work as a unit. It was mostly one of them bowling well with others misfiring. That consistent hostility of the West Indies of 1970s and 80s, Pakistan in the Imran Khan to Wasim - Waqar era, Australia in the first decade of new millennium had always remained an elusive dream for Indian Cricket fans.

MSD was a revolutionary Captain in ODI Cricket. But he somehow became a passive spectator in overseas tests as Indian bowlers practically threw in the towel when faced with flat decks. When it comes to Test Cricket, Kohli is a different Captain. He might err with team selection, he may not be quite imaginative in his handling of spinners but he has brought in a hitherto unknown element into Indian Cricket. The consistently aggressive fast bowling unit that can claim 20 wickets in most tests. We aren't talking about the 130kmph variety but those who can keep it above 140 to 150 kmph even in the third session of the day.

India haven't had it so good any time before Kohli and Kohli's constant support definitely counts there. In Bumrah, Ishant, Shami and Umesh, India have a pretty consistent and aggressive bowling unit. With Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, Siraj Ahmed, Khaleel Ahmed and Navdeep Saini in the backup, it looks even better. If a team can bench Ravichandran Ashwin, that speaks for the bench strength. It isn't as if we didn't have the talent in the past. We actually lacked the fast Bowler's captain.

If Kohli is that fast Bowler's captain India always yearned to have, Jasprit Bumrah is that fast bowler we always dreamed about. Those who have followed Indian Cricket for as long as I have followed, we are living our dreams, those long cherished dreams of Indian Pace Bowlers destroying opposition batting lineups with utter ruthlessness.

Kohli was heard on stump microphones, "What a bowler !" and we saw a shy smile in response on the childlike face of Bumrah. 25 years old, 12 tests into his career and he already is the leader of the pack. He is relentless, he is fearsome, he is always switched on and he is all aggression in his bowling without ever being obnoxious or demonstrative.

Jasprit Bumrah is a new paradigm in himself, "Once in a lifetime talent" as described by a former West Indian fast bowler Ian Bishop. Nothing describes Bumrah better. We haven't seen something like this before. We don't know what future has in store. But at this moment, in these exciting days, let's celebrate this rare blessing of a bowler called Jasprit Bumrah, fondly called Boom by teammates.

Govind Raj Shenoy for DieHard Cricket Fans

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