With the extra backspin that he generates, Jasprit Bumrah makes the ball drop alarmingly at the batsman as well as skid through him. He is equally capable of propelling the ball conventionally, or making it climb awkwardly at batsmen. A look at how he achieves both with a whip of the wrist at release.
Faf du Plessis (3rd Test, Joburg – 2018)
The South African skipper, batting on 48, had a fair measure of the surface, conditions and bowlers. He had just played a Bumrah lifter (off a good length) by taking his bottom hand off the handle. But then came the back-of-a-length ball. He judged the length and shouldered arms, for conventional cricket wisdom would tell you that the bowler purchases more bounce from back of a length than good length. Du Plessis thought the ball would sail over the stumps. Only that the delivery didn’t take off as much as he expected and dislodged the bails. The ball dipped before pitching and hence skidded through the surface. Bumrah’s wrists, this time, had fully whipped the ball, resulting in more backspin. Du Plessis looked begrudgingly at the surface, but in reality, he was fooled by Bumrah’s nuance and the reverse Magnus effect. Just like a straighter ball is the deadliest one on a spinning surface, the non-bouncing variant is lethal on a bouncy one.
Faf du Plessis (1st Test, Cape Town – 2018)
When most other bowlers were purchasing more bounce off the surface, Bumrah wasn’t. Then entirely out of the blue, he made one explode (not off a crack) from back-of-a-length, leaping into the South African skipper. It’s a delivery you’d associate with someone like Curtly Ambrose than Bumrah, because the latter isn’t as tall as the West Indian legend. Also the whippy release – as well as the dread of his yorkers – make the batsmen presume that his deliveries would skid on rather than bounce. But here he doesn’t whip the ball as much as he generally does. Rather, he lets it rip like conventional seamers, hits the deck hard, lands the ball on the seam and generates tennis-ball like bounce. Batsmen often misjudge his bounce, and that’s because he can, to an extent, control it.
Shai Hope (3rd ODI, Pune – 2018)
Often, batsmen can read Bumrah’s yorkers but still can do little about it. Pace and late-bend are the reasons, as is the landing point. Most batsmen either look to squirt it before it descends, to meet it as a low full-toss, or plant the bat at the very last moment. But often, the balls dips before it lands, and the batsman is too late to make the required adjustments. Hope’s dismissal was a classic instance. The West Indian thought that he could retrieve it, only that it landed a few centimetres behind where he had anticipated. If he knew that, he would have been slightly forward, could have even met the ball as a half-volley. It was all so sudden and subtle. Bumrah’s wrists give an almighty whip, which generates enough backspin to make the ball dip.