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Irfan Pathan doffs hat to Jasprit Bumrah

Irfan explained that Bumrah’s control over his action makes him lethal

By Sudipto Gupta in Calcutta
  • Published 2.09.19, 2:30 AM
  • Updated 2.09.19, 2:46 AM
  • 2 mins read
Irfan Pathan (Wikimedia Commons)

For any bowler, a hat-trick is magical. And if that comes in Test cricket, the magic is even more majestic.

But Irfan Pathan believes that more than the on-field euphoria, it is the lingering after-effect of a rare feat that is more satisfying for a cricketer. Irfan was the last Indian before Bumrah to claim a Test hat-trick, when he had rocked Pakistan in the first over of the Karachi Test in 2006.

Irfan explained that Bumrah’s control over his action makes him lethal. “His action makes him unique, everyone knows that. But the good thing is that he hasn’t changed his action… He is in great control of his action and his body. When you have that, you become a world-class bowler.

“Bumrah is able to control his wrists, when you do that you can create magic with your bowling, and that is what Bumrah is doing. He is so still and stable during the time of his delivery… That is why he gets those perfect outswingers and that creates doubt in the batsmen’s mind. He doesn’t even run fast, but still bowls at a speed that surprises the batsmen,” the former India pacer told The Telegraph on Sunday.

Irfan, who has 301 International wickets across formats, thinks Test cricket has awoken a better Bumrah. “As soon as he started playing Test cricket, he became better. Before he played Tests, he bowled inswingers. Now in Tests, he is bowling the outswingers as well to the right-handed batsmen. Not just that, he bowls inswingers to left-handed batsmen, and that is even more difficult. When you play Test cricket, you get to bowl with the new ball, the old ball, the second new ball… That is where you learn. So he has become more lethal after playing Test cricket.”

The world cricket currently has become the playground of many a promising fast bowler. Where does Bumrah stand? “Not in the crowd,” Irfan replied.

“Bumrah is above everyone at the moment. His ability to swing the ball both ways, ability to bowl yorkers at will, ability to switch from red-ball to white-ball cricket — for all that I think he is a notch above everybody.

“Yes, people are talking about Jofra Archer, he is a fantastic bowler and should have a great future. But he has to pass the longevity test. Right now, Bumrah is the No.1 by far. Talk about the biggest stars, the Mitchell Starcs and James Andersons, even they struggle when they come to subcontinent pitches. But Bumrah performs on all kind of surfaces. He is special and he is the No.1.”

Irfan even thinks that because of Bumrah, the practice of Indian curators producing spinner-friendly wickets to counter visiting teams should change.

“That’s what should happen. Why not? We have got a top-class bowling attack… (Mohammed) Shami, Ishant (Sharma), Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar), they are class acts. So we shouldn’t mind having greener pitches in India. You see when the ball swings around, both, players and spectators, enjoy the cricket.

“Like it’s happening in the Ashes now. You enjoy the competition. Nothing against spinners, but having livelier pitches will only help Indian cricket and the viewers as well.”

On his own hat-trick memories, Irfan said: “I didn’t know then that people would remember it for so long. People still tell me about it. Much of the game is about the fans as well.”

Hat-tricks are rare. But so is Bumrah. That is why Irfan doesn’t think twice before saying: “Bumrah can take a hat-trick again. He is that kind of a bowler.”