For those who know him well, it is difficult to believe Jasprit Bumrah on his own would have had a go at James Anderson in the manner he did on Sunday at Lord’s – a 10-ball over with bouncers off huge no-balls. The player from Ahmedabad is too nice for the ugly stuff. If anything, he would be respectful of a player of Anderson’s stature. Even when he was going through the drill of roughing up the England No. 11, he was doing it with a sheepish grin rather than the snarl of a Dennis Lillee.
He had to play the role of a nasty fast bowler for his team’s cause. India needed his help to solve the massive Anderson problem. In the first innings, their long-time nemesis had again put on another great exhibition of swing bowling and cut down Virat Kohli and Co’s march with a stirring five-wicket haul.
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Four wickets in the first innings at Trent Bridge made it nine in two outings. Clearly, if allowed to do his stuff, he would run away with this series as he has done the last three times when India have toured.
Bumrah’s bumper barrage thus looked a well-thought out plan, to get under the skin of England’s main bowling weapon than to hurt him. It was important to put him off his game. In skill and stamina he was proving to be at his best. They needed to get into his mind, disturb his concentration, in effect upset his rhythm. To India’s delight, not only he, the entire England team got affected by what they saw as an insult to their legend. The result was there to see on the final day of the second Test as England were skittled out for 120 deep into the final session, putting India 1-0 up with three Tests to play.
For Anderson, the fast bowler’s ego had taken over. From a cold assassin, his mission became all about putting the Indian batsmen in their place. In effect, he lost the bite that controlled aggression and clear thinking brought him. The rest of the England pacers also let their emotions get the better of them.
The hosts had taken control of the game on the fourth evening with three late strikes to reduce India to 181 for six. It looked all over for India when Rishabh Pant got out within half an hour of resumption on Day 5 for the addition of only 13 runs. Ishant Sharma also fell soon. Out walked Jasprit Bumrah, the man the bowlers were waiting to have a go at, to join Mohammed Shami.
It was tough reception for the ninth-wicket pair. There was a heated exchange between the two Indian batsmen and some of the England players. It seemed to have been started by Anderson, and the others got involved. Normally, Bumrah doesn’t react but he was not taking a step back here. There was a long exchange with Mark Wood, the bowler given the task of bouncing Bumrah, and keeper Jos Buttler, with captain Joe Root also joining in.
Next over, he was hit on the side of the helmet by Wood. Instead of shaking him up, it brought out the competitiveness in Bumrah. He started watching the ball even more closely, there was no breaching his defence from there on.
Confronted by the famous fighting spirit that has become the hallmark of this team, having seen earlier in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, England lost the plot. Shami and Bumrah didn’t flinch. If anything the rougher the treatment, the more determined they got. India’s unbroken ninth wicket pair added 89 runs (120 balls) to help India declare the second innings at 298/8, to set the home team a target of 272 in 60 overs. Shami remained 56 not out (70 balls, 6 fours, 1 six) and Bumrah was 34 not out (64 b, 3 fours).
Bouyed by their lower-order’s gutsy show, a rampant India then came out to scythe through the England batting for 120 for their third win at Lord’s, after 1986 and 2014. Mohammed Siraj and Jasprit Bumrah shared the major spoils with four and three wickets respectively.
After the batting heroics, Bumrah and Shami were straight away at the batsmen. Rory Burns was out for zero to Bumrah, next over Shami produced a beauty to take Sibley’s edge, leaving England two down for one run. Had Rohit Sharma taken Haseeb Hameed’s catch at second slip in the sixth over, England would have been 10/3.
Haseeb, however, didn’t last long. At the total of 44, Ishant Sharma nailed him in front of the wicket. Bairstow was rattled with a bouncer first up. At the stroke of lunch, Sharma won a leg-before verdict to make it 67/4. Only Root stood between India and victory. Within three balls of resumption, Bumrah got the big one, Kohli taking the catch at first slip. The Gujarat pacer should have had the third as well in his ninth over but Kohli couldn’t hold on to Buttler’s healthy edge. The batsman was on two.
Just when it looked like England will fight it out through Buttler and Moeen Ali, the irrepressible Siraj struck a double blow to make it 90/7. It left India to get three wickets in 21.4 overs.
With overs running out as Buttler and Ollie Robinson defended stoutly, Bumrah outfoxed the latter in the 51st over. It was a classic Bumrah set-up, pushing the batsman back with bouncers and then slipping in a slower one. Three balls later, Buttler was caught behind off Siraj.
It was real drama in the morning. Seeing their tail-enders coping with the aggression, emotions were overflowing in the famous Lord’s visitors’ dressing room balcony. Kohli was out with his teammates vociferously cheering every run. Shami was batting fluently. There was a cracking off-drive off Moeen Ali, then a clean hit over long-on off the off-spinner. Off the pacers, there were flicks and fluent drives. Shami smashed Moeen’s second ball over the cow corner for four and next ball danced down and smashed it into the crowd at midwicket to get to his half-century off 57 balls. It took India’s total to 282/8 with the lead 255.
At the other end, Bumrah played doggedly, in between showing the full face of the bat for a couple of straight drives off the pace bowlers that broke the stumps at the other end.
At lunch, the lead had reached 259 runs, their partnership 77 runs. Now, all eyes were on Kohli to make the declaration and have a go at the England batsmen. The India captain waited for two overs after resumption in which Shami and Bumrah added three more fours.
Bumrah had won his personal battle with the England ace. It was roles reversed with Anderson. He was the standout bowler on the final day, in the first innings he finished wicketless. Just the opposite for Anderson – the best in the first innings but wicketless in the second for figures of 25.3-6-53-0.
With a little bit of gamesmanship, Bumrah had put the most successful pace bowler ever off his game, and India on the road to domination.