While it looks likely that the likes of Mohammed Shami, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma will shoulder the responsibility of pace bowling in the upcoming Test series against South Africa, recently retired India pacer Ashish Nehra believes uncapped Jasprit Bumrah can be a good choice for the series-opener in Cape Town.
In the last couple of years, Shami and Umesh have spearheaded the pace attack on most of the occasions while Ishant and Bhuvneshwar Kumar were included in the team as per conditions. So, it is more than likely that the onus will be on the tried and tested pacers in the challenging series. However, Nehra feels Bumrah, who has been picked up as a backup pacer, ‘can be an asset’ on the Newlands pitch.
“Jasprit Bumrah can be a good choice for the first Test in Cape Town. I don’t know what’s there in the team management’s mind but he is the kind of bowler, who can be an asset on the Newlands track during the first Test,” Nehra told PTI.
Bumrah has become an integral part of the India’s limited-overs team since making his international debut last year. However, he is yet to prove his mettle with the red ball which might prompt the team-management to not unleash him against the world number two Test side.
But Nehra is confident that Bumrah’s experience in first-class cricket will come in handy and also stated that his lethal yorkers, brilliant slower ones and an unorthodox action could make him an x-factor in South Africa.
“We have seen Bumrah primarily in white ball cricket but just go back a year and check out how many overs he had bowled for Gujarat in Ranji Trophy,” he said.
“He has the most lethal yorker among the five pacers along with good slower ones. Also he has an awkward high-arm action, which can be very difficult to pick initially. All these factors work in Bumrah’s favour,” added Nehra, who was a part of the 2001 Test series in the country.“Also if one looks at Bumrah’s record, he has the ability to bowl long spells. He has done it for Gujarat, so I don’t see any reason why he can’t do it for India,” Nehra said.
A veteran of over 150 international games, Nehra also feels Bumrah would not face many problems with the red kookaburra despite bowling with SG ball in first-class cricket.
“Bumrah, in last two years, has bowled a lot with white kookaburra in limited overs matches. If we are talking about the seam, it’s the same for the red as well as white ball. And when the seam is no longer pronounced, ones who can hit the deck hard get an advantage,” he said.
A pool of in-form bowlers will make it tough for the Indian-team management to decide the final line-up. Nehra, however, was quick to point out that the team should first pick Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma if he selects to play with three pacers and a spinner.
“Shami is your strike bowler but he will at the maximum bowl six over spells at one go. He is your main weapon and you have to use him judiciously. Now people raise questions about Ishant Sharma’s strike-rate but it needs to be realised that what he brings to the table,” he said.
“Ishant is a bowler, who can stifle batsmen bowling over after over from one end. That is a quality that a lot of bowlers don’t have. There have been times that Ishant has created pressure from one end and it has helped bowlers from other end get wickets,” he added.
For the third pacer, Nehra believes the team-management will take the call depending upon the conditions.
“It’s the choice between Bumrah, Bhuvi and Umesh Yadav. Now Umesh has a fantastic outswinger at a good pace. He has bowled a lot in home conditions during the past season and is also a contender. But I believe the choice would be very much condition specific,” he opined.
The 39-year old further said Virat Kohli & Co. have a good chance of doing well in South Africa as the squad has experience.
“It’s well-documented by now that each and every top cricketing nation nowadays is playing well at home. Look at Ashes, where Australia have not only won it but they dominated each of the first three Test matches.
“Obviously South Africa will come hard at us but this is a very balanced team. This is currently the best Indian team that had picked itself,” Nehra said.
India will begin their quest to register their first series win in South Africa from January 5.
Video of the day: