Former Indian seamer Lakshmipathy Balaji believes that Mohammed Siraj is the perfect back-up for Jasprit Bumrah, and is of the opinion that the newcomer is very ‘identical’ to the latter. Balaji further opined that India have now figured out a method to win matches even without their seniors.
India competing in a Test match away from home without Jasprit Bumrah, let alone winning, was a thought unfathomable not too long ago, but the impact Mohammed Siraj has made has been such that the youngster has outdone his senior since his Test debut. Siraj, who made his debut at the MCG last year, bowled India to a famous victory over the Aussies at the Gabba despite Bumrah missing, and once again made a stellar impact in the home series against England, in which he averaged 22.66.
Bumrah, due to the sheer skill he possesses, is irreplaceable, but, according to Lakshmipathy Balaji, Siraj could be an able replacement for the 27-year-old. Balaji compared the two bowlers and pointed out that Siraj, despite being more orthodox, approaches bowling in an identical manner to Bumrah.
“With Bumrah’s talent, you have to see a similar replacement for him. He cannot be identically replaced as he is an exceptionally talented bowler. He is a match-winner. At the same time, you have an opportunity for an identical talent to thrive, say Siraj,” Balaji was quoted as saying by wionnews.com.
“The ball pretty much comes out of the hand perpendicular, angles away from the left-hander, straightens for the right-hander. They are almost identical, not exactly the same. The ball path, dismissal patterns are similar – LBW, bowled, caught behind.”
Bumrah masterminded India’s series win over Australia in 2018, but such was the belief within the side earlier this year that they conquered the Gabba without one of their senior-most pacers. Not just Bumrah, India managed to topple Australia also without their second and third best seamers, Shami and Ishant Sharma. Balaji believes that the planning that went on behind the scenes, which according to him was a case of tactics and skill coming together, was primarily responsible for India thriving in the absence of senior bowlers.
“If Bumrah is not there, who gives almost the same, if not exactly the same, performance? Find a formula. Similar tactical discussions will help the captain, the team management, not go straight into defense but look for the offense if Bumrah is not there. India’s Test series win in Australia is a classic case. Without Bumrah and Shami, the Indian bowlers still managed to take 20 wickets. That was tactics and skills matching at the right time," Balaji said.