Jasprit Bumrah began his second spell on Monday with a searing yorker that was dug out by Andre Russell’s bat just before it could crash onto middle stump. The next ball, he banged one back of a length on off that Russell could only sky to long-on. The next 16 balls, he added four more wickets and conceded a measly five runs. Typical Bumrah.
He yelled and leapt with an added dash of vigour to mark his five-wicket haul against the Kolkata Knight Riders. Atypical Bumrah.
The ever-smiling fast bowler called the unusually expressive wicket celebrations in one of the most eye-catching spells this Indian Premier League (IPL) “instinctive”. The Mumbai Indians (MI) pacer hasn’t had too many moments like these during the season; half of his total tally of 10 wickets was stuffed in the 5/10 in a losing cause for MI on Monday. However, Bumrah couldn’t care less about numbers, or, for that matter, the “noise” of his individual contribution in the bottom-placed MI’s two-win season.
“For me personally, I’m very happy with my rhythm throughout the tournament,” Bumrah told reporters after MI’s 52-run defeat. “I know there’s a lot of noise outside that goes on, but it doesn’t really affect me because I’m not a person who judges my performance on what others think or what the experts are saying or whatever people want to say. I look at my personal evaluation, which is very important to me.”
Bumrah’s personal evaluation has two parts: process and the end result, with the two not necessarily interlinked. “We prepare for the tournament and have our processes. We don’t look at the end result. If you understand the game you have to really observe what’s going on, what’s the game like, what situation you’re bowling in,” he said.
Bumrah’s 10 wickets so far this season—he hasn’t ended an IPL with less than 15 since 2016—have come in four matches. He picked up 3/17 in MI’s second match against Rajasthan Royals and a wicket apiece in a couple of games along the way. India’s striker bowler has only two wickets in the powerplay this season; he has bowled 16 overs in that phase across the 11 matches, most of them one-over spells like against KKR on Monday.
A majority of Bumrah’s overs—and wickets—have come in the second half of the innings, where batters are out on the attack and MI haven’t had the depth to defend as a bowling unit. Bumrah has conceded less than 30 runs in seven of the 11 matches, leaking more than 40 in just two outings. His economy rate of 7.41 is the least among the team’s frontline bowlers, with most of the others sitting on the other side of 8. Bumrah has bowled 104 dot balls this season, the 10th most by a bowler and four fewer than Wanindu Hasaranga. Yuzvendra Chahal, the purple cap holder, has delivered 99.
Bumrah therefore spoke about the significance of the “small contributions” in a rebuilding team, be it bowling a tight over or stringing together a few quiet balls in a high-scoring encounter.
“You can’t judge performances based purely on stats or end result. You have to get into the minute details: what situation it was, how was the wicket playing, whether there was dew, in which scenario you took the best chances, what are you best options for a wicket. Making people understand that can sometimes get difficult, because those who understand the game know that and those in our set-up know what we were trying to do,” Bumrah said. “However small your contribution is to help the team, that is the be all and end all for me. And that is why it has helped me maintain a calm head.”
A new-look MI bowling attack—and perhaps Bumrah too—has missed a fast-bowling partner-in-crime for their lead pacer (until next year when Jofra Archer joins). Daniel Sams, Riley Meredith and Tymal Mills haven’t been as impactful as the likes of Lasith Malinga or Mitchell Johnson or Trent Boult or even Nathan Coulter-Nile were, either with the new ball or at the death. It’s left a lot of heavy lifting for Bumrah to do, even if the 28-year-old says he isn’t feeling it.
“Pressure is what you think, it’s self-created. I don’t listen to what is said outside. I always look at what I can do and how I am operating. If you go out for solutions, that doesn’t work. I have my trusted people. I am very realistic with my evaluations and I’m very hard on myself. There’s no filtering that,” he said.
And so it goes back to the evaluations. Of the processes and results in an IPL season in which Bumrah, although not as prominently placed in terms of volume of wickets and weight of impact, is content. “I look at the processes that I have to follow and the result on how I can contribute towards the team, in whatever way,” he said. “This is how I play cricket and this is how I always wanted to play cricket. And that is how I’ll do going further as well.”