The Wanderers witnessed two contrasting Jasprit Bumrah performance separated by four years. In 2018, in his debut tour, Bumrah had picked his maiden five-wicket haul at the venue, albeit in a losing cause. Four years hence, Bumrah was comparatively far less ineffective at the same venue, picking the solitary wicket of Keshav Maharaj in the first innings and going wickless in 17 overs for 70 runs in the second innings as India lost by seven wickets.
The numbers are sure an aberration from a bowler who has already found his place among the greats of the format in such a short span. And Bumrah has been an incredibly smart bowler and a quick learner – that Antigua spell in 2008, the dismissal of Keaton Jennings in 2018 England tour – the two that stand out of his very many top performances that have helped India establish themselves as a formidable pace-bowling nation. And then there is that Wanderers show last week.
According to former South Africa seamer Fanie de Villiers, the hosts have managed to work him out and not that Bumrah had bowled badly in the second Test, although he admitted that the pacer did not make the batters play enough.
“I don’t think it is a question of him lacking ability or he bowled badly. I think South Africa has worked him out. Since he has been India’s most important bowler, lots of team discussion has gone on how to tackle and survive Bumrah. I think South Africa has learned their lessons from the first Test,” he told The Indian Express.
“This is where he lacked in the second Test as South African batters were leaving so many deliveries from him. Even Elgar played him better than before, although he got hit a couple of times,” he added.
De Villiers also explained that the South Africa pacers bowled more fuller deliveries which helped them test both the edges.
“In South Africa, fuller deliveries have always been more successful. The bowler, who has got the ability to bowl both inswinger and outswinger, will be more effective. That’s the reason why Vernon Philander enjoyed his greatest successes at home and especially at the Newlands [venue of the last Test],” he said.