Jasprit Bumrah’s Edgbaston assault will keep him superior forever

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Having been playing in his elite years, Jasprit Bumrah’s aura is already significantly great to world cricket. But, on his first assignment as India’s captain, the way he produced an exhibition of brutal power-hitting, was simply unparalleled in Test cricket’s 135-year-long history.

Jasprit Bumrah's brisk cameo, which came on Saturday at Edgbaston during India's fifth postponed Test match versus England, will be cherished across the generations in the years to come.

In the 84th over, bowled by Stuart Broad, Bumrah’s onslaught came out of nowhere. The first ball was pitched at short length, and Bumrah – India’s 36th Test captain – went for the pull only to get a thick top-edge. Zak Crawley, who was well placed at fine leg, dived forward to take that, but because of his complete misjudgment, the ball escaped through his hands before it went over the rope. At this point, those who were watching live, could not have predicted what they were about to witness in the next five or ten minutes. Well actually, that is how cricket works. It never fails to amaze the ardent fans.

The second ball that Broad bowled in that over was even shorter than the first. In fact, it was that sailed over both Bumrah and England’s ‘keeeper Sam Billings for five wide runs. The Englishman, who became the third pacer (after Glenn McGrath and his partner-in-crime James Anderson) to snare 550 wickets four overs earlier, continued the unfamiliar lackluster bowling. Rather than making a change in plan, he dug in short again against Bumrah, and the latter got another massive top edge, but this time for six over third man region. A few moments later, the situation got worse for England after the on-field umpire Aleem Dar gave it a no-ball for overstepping.

At this point, 16 runs came off one legitimate ball in the 84th over. The stat was simply unbelievable and quite fascinating for those who love to work with numbers, and surely from there on, many had started to anticipate something extraordinary was about to occur. They, of course, were eventually right.

Broad’s next ball was a high full-toss towards Bumrah. The latter, despite the drastic change of length, did not surprise at all before sending it down the ground for four runs. Then, Broad finally managed to get the length right after a few hammering blows. He bowled at good length outside off stump but a ‘lucky’ inside edge helped Bumrah add four more runs on the scoreboard. Well, as they say, God always stand with them who tend to take risks.

But Bumrah, despite losing his balance, did not fail to middle the fourth ball. In fact, he brought out a wild one-handed swipe towards mid-wicket which went for four again. At this point, the statisticians highlighted by plundering 28 runs off the first legitimate four balls he had already equalled the record for the most runs scored off an over in Tests. Prior to him, only Brian Lara and George Bailey, and Keshav Maharaj had managed to score that much.

But Bumrah had no intention to stop the carnage. He, with one knee on the air, picked up a short ball around leg stump and lofted it over deep backward square leg for a flat six. With that, he created a world record, something he would not have ever imagined in his wildest dreams. 

To finish things off, Bumrah ran a risky single to take the tally to 35 runs at the end of the over. The Indian players, particularly Virat Kohli, leapt in joy after watching their captain smashing around the park. In fact, after the onslaught, many had compared Bumrah to Yuvraj Singh, Broad’s nightmare of 2007 T20 World Cup.

Without a slightest of hesitation, Bumrah ruthlessly punished every error made by Broad to race to 31 not out off 16 balls. In that process, he became the highest run-getter by any debutant captain in Test history while batting at No. 10 position.  Bishan Bedi, who had scored 30 at Christchurch way back in 1976, held the previous best record. Simultaneously, his 31 was also the highest score by a captain in a Test innings while batting at Nos. 10 or 11.

Thus, courtesy of Bumrah’s brisk and twin centuries by Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja, India, after being reduced to 98/5, ended at 416 in the first innings.

As Indian captain, Bumrah pulled off something outrageous at Edgbaston which will remain in golden words in history books. Someone who comes to bat at No. 10 smashing someone who is among the bowling greats in the format makes the knock even more significant. The over had everything: there were a few excellent strokeplays, top edges, and also there were a few where he times so well. Though it is obvious, it is worth a mention that his strike rate (193.75) as captain is now the highest in the history of Test cricket. 

Remember, back in February 2021, in the bracket of minimum 50 innings, he had the second-worst average (2.80) in international cricket across formats, after New Zealand’s Chris Martin (2.38). And now, with additional responsibility, he just did something which was never done by any designated high-profile batsman ever. And three English wickets within his first six overs made things even more delightful for him, as well as for the Indian fans.

Could there be any better captaincy debut? The question should not raise many eyebrows.

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