Jasprit Bumrah has not been in good form in recent times and has picked just one wicket in his last six ODIs
The very thought should make an Indian fan shudder. Jasprit Bumrah is a generational bowler, they said. Since his rise from Ranji and India's favourite T20 League, Bumrah has been the toast of a nation that has had very few bowling heroes, let along fast bowling heroes. His return from injury was awaited with bated breaths but once he was indeed back, the celebrations have been quite muted.
The reason? In his last six ODIs, Bumrah has a grand total of one wicket! That of Australian tail-ender Adam Zampa. He was taken apart in a T20I death over by Kane Williamson and yet again by the same batsman in the Super Over in that game.
Injury sure seems to be pegging back Bumrah a touch. Was he fully fit when returning? Did India hasten his return to the setup for him to be ready for the New Zealand Test series? Did India need to play him throughout the ODI and T20I series, particularly when both had dead rubber games?
Questions galore around Bumrah but the one factor that does not change any of this is that a strike bowler picked up just one wicket in his last six ODIs. Now, wickets aren't just the only factor that makes Bumrah the Bumrah we love.
During the T20Is, the commentator said - "That's the thing about Bumrah. Had he not been this good, Bumrah might have picked up more wickets."
He is right. Bumrah is perhaps too good to get wickets. Batsmen know he is extremely lethal and come out with a mindset of playing him out rather than taking him on. Could this be pinpointed as a reason for his lack of wickets in the last six ODIs? Unfortunately not.
Bumrah in last six ODIs
- 7-0-50-0 v Australia Mumbai
- 9.1-2-32-1 v Australia Rajkot
- 10-0-38-0 v Australia Bengaluru
- 10-1-53-0 v New Zealand Hamilton
- 10-0-64-0 v New Zealand Auckland
- 10-0-50-0 v New Zealand Mount Maunganui
In two of his last six ODIs, Bumrah has gone at over six runs per over. In two further matches he went at over five runs per over without appearing to be too much of a threat. He picked up six wickets in the five T20Is at a fairly good economy, but in ODIs, with more time in the hands of batsmen, they seem to have decoded a way of not giving him wickets and also scoring off him.
Now, this could obviously be put down to his recent injury history and lack of rhythm. The Bumrah we know is a lethal pace bowler and his credentials across formats cannot possibly be questioned. Except that it can be.
Go deeper into Bumrah's career and here's what stands out. His averages against some of the best batting teams in his career - the Aussies, England, New Zealand and Pakistan - are disappointing. He has thrived against South Africa, who are no longer a decent batting side, West Indies, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Zimbabwe.
v New Zealand
v South Africa
v Sri Lanka
v West Indies
Against England and Pakistan, Bumrah averages 45.33 and 48.75 respectively with his economy rate bouncing over six against England. Against Australia and New Zealand too, Bumrah has struggled to maintain a decent average - 34.83 and 36.84 - despite a fairly big sample size.
Bumrah's overall ODI numbers are impressive: an average of 24.43 in 64 innings at a strike rate of 32.1 and an economy under five.
But cut down his numbers to the top tier teams in ODIs - Australia, New Zealand, England, Pakistan and South Africa (included despite their poor batting form) - and the stats take a beating. He averages 34.01 in total against these sides while striking every 41st ball on an average, disappointing numbers for a strike bowler in One Dayers. Cut out South Africa from this list, and the average shoots up to 38.36 and the strike rate to 44.7.
It's definitely harsh to suggest that Bumrah is overrated in ODIs but can you completely ridicule this possibility yet? Probably not.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Michael Bradley