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‘No set template, be proactive and smart’

Oct 27, 2020

Here’s a short and straightforward guide on bowling in the death (and Super) overs from one of the best in the business, Jasprit Bumrah: Break the situation down into what your team wants from you in that over, assess the pitch and conditions, evaluate the match situation, check the boundary distance on all sides, especially square, and then choose the deliveries from the options available.

To Bumrah, one of the best death bowlers in the world, another key to successful bowling under pressure is to not go into every such situation with a set template, but always be “very proactive and smart”.

“It is difficult to just categorise [death bowling and Super-Over bowling] at one go, but it is different,” he said during a media interaction on Tuesday. “It depends on different people how they treat it, but for me, I just try to keep things simple, try to assess the wicket, situation, the boundary sizes and all of that and I then choose my options.

“It’s very difficult to just say, ‘oh you should just bowl yorkers, you should just bowl slower ones’. You have to be very proactive [and] smart with what approach you want to have and what the wicket is helping as well. So all of these things I keep in mind and try to do what I can.”

“I try to do things that are in my control. I try to stay in the present, I try to take it one ball at a time. Whenever pressure creeps in I ask myself ‘what does the team require me to do at that moment’ and then segregate the whole situation. I focus ball by ball, what I’ve to execute on this ball. So [I] try to segregate the things, try to be in the present. That helps me a lot.”

Bumrah has been the Mumbai Indians’ go-to bowler for the crunch overs this season too, especially in Lasith Malinga‘s absence, and is the joint third-highest wicket-taker with a tally of 17 strikes. Already, in 11 matches, the Mumbai Indians have had three Super Overs – one against the Royal Challengers Bangalore and two versus the Kings XI Punjab in one game – out of which Bumrah bowled his limit of two.

Mumbai’s new-look pace attack this time includes Trent Boult (16 wickets), James Pattinson (11 from eight games) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (two from three games), and the way all those quicks have stepped up and bowled together in tandem has changed the way Bumrah has been used, while retaining his specialist role at the death.

The Mumbai Indians have used Boult’s undeniable skill with the new ball and Pattinson’s hit-the-deck-hard approach to open the bowling in almost all matches, except when Bumrah shared the new ball on two out of 11 occasions, against the Rajasthan Royals and the Chennai Super Kings. Otherwise, Bumrah has had a slightly different and well-defined role this IPL compared to the past: bowl just one in the powerplay, one just after the halfway mark, and two at the death – either the 16th and 18th, or 17th and 19th, depending on opposition and match situation.

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“It’s always difficult when you bowl in a pressure situation,” Bumrah said of bowling in the death when defending totals. “During that time, bowlers can come under pressure and complicate things and think about a lot of things that they shouldn’t.

“I try to do things that are in my control. I try to stay in the present, I try to take it one ball at a time. Whenever pressure creeps in I ask myself ‘what does the team require me to do at that moment’ and then segregate the whole situation. I focus ball by ball, what I’ve to execute on this ball. So [I] try to segregate the things, try to be in the present. That helps me a lot. That’s probably the goal in any situation.”

Bumrah also said that he didn’t go in with a pre-meditated thinking of having to bowl each ball differently in an over to keep the batsmen guessing. “It depends on what stage you’re bowling in the match. Sometimes you might be looking to close off the over, sometimes you take a gamble or try an attacking approach. It’s not that you have a same template or you will repeat those balls or you’ll change up with each and every delivery. It depends on the whole situation, what stage are you there on the match, what’s the wicket offering, the dimensions of the ground. So all of this you keep in mind and then decide what kind of delivery you want.”

No matter how many change-ups he talks about or whatever different bowling combinations the Mumbai Indians use, the one constant for them is that when they need a bowler in a high-pressure situation, they don’t need to think and just toss the ball to Bumrah.

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