February 13, 2021 11:05:44 am
Trailing 0-1 in the four-Test series, India picked pacer Mohammad Siraj over Jasprit Bumrah for the second Test at Chepauk. By selecting a rank rookie over the world’s leading new ball bowler, India followed cricket’s global trend of resting and rotating players keeping in mind their workload. Here’s understanding the Indian pace department’s big switch.
What was the team management’s explanation?
After winning the toss, Indian captain Virat Kohli clarified that Bumrah wasn’t in the playing XI because of some injury or niggle. “Jasprit Bumrah has been rested for this game. We need to manage his workload. Mohammad Siraj comes in for him and he brings good variety,” he said. England too stuck to the rotation policy – they have been the pioneers – by disturbing their winning combination. Last Test’s hero James Anderson sat out, making way for his long-time new ball partner Stuart Broad.
Was it wise to exclude the pace spearhead Bumrah for this crucial Test?
The decision was made keeping in mind the bigger picture. Coach, captain and selectors are of the view that Bumrah, along with Hardik Pandya, is a one-of-a-kind player for whom there is no like-for-like replacement. Bumrah, the leader of the Indian fast-bowling attack, with his unique action, pace, accuracy, and variations is arguably the best across formats in contemporary cricket. Since the team management is keen that Bumrah remains fit for the T20 World Cup that India hosts later this year, they have decided to keep him in cotton wool. A key member of IPL champion side Mumbai Indians, there isn’t any T20 pacer around the world who can match Bumrah’s ability to take early wickets and bowl efficiently at the death.
So will the Indian Test team miss Bumrah?
Yes, it will but Siraj too has proved during the Australia tour that he has the skills to succeed in Test cricket. While he is an effective new ball bowler, he can also bowl reverse-swing. In his short international career, the Hyderabad bowler has shown that he can outfox batsmen with the semi-old ball. India’s second innings in the first Test showed that it is the “25 to 40 overs” period that is most difficult to bat. It was during this period, James Anderson broke India’s batting spine by taking the wickets of Shubhman Gill and Ajinkya Rahane with his reverse swing. Though, the second Test pitch could be more spin-friendly, Siraj can be expected to partner a spinner when the ball starts to lose shine.
How is Bumrah different from Ishant?
Ishant Sharma is primarily a seam bowlers who varies his length to get wickets. However, Siraj bowls more full and gets more movement off the wicket. Regardless the nature of the pitch, a full swinging delivery can always make things difficult for batsmen. It may be recalled that during the Melbourne Test in Australia, Siraj got Cameron Green with a fine in-swinger after setting him up with a spate of out-swingers. Having received tips from Dale Steyn, his team mate from Royal Challengers Bangalore, Siraj has worked hard on his outswingers too.
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