We’d have happily taken 246 any day: Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah was on fire yesterday at Southampton (Getty Images)

While many believe that India might have let England off the hook to allow them to get to a total of 246 on Day one of the fourth Test at Southampton, fast Jasprit Bumrah reckons the figure is something he and the Indian team would gladly accept. England, after winning the toss and opting to bat first, were reduced to 86/6 shortly after the first session and it wasn’t until the lower middle order chipped in that England recovered to post a reasonable score on the board.

Sam Curran led the way with 78 and received able support Moeen Ali as the two forged a partnership of 81 runs to give England hope. In the end, India managed to pin them and were 19/0 at stumps.

“In the morning if I we were told that we will get them out for around 250, we would take it any day,” Bumrah told reporters at the end of the day. “We had them at 80/5, but they recovered well. You can’t be getting wickets all the time and expecting us to bowl them out for 100. We’re happy with the score and if we bat well over here, it may give us a chance to get a sizeable lead.

“You can’t expect to see five wickets fall in every session. And that’s what happened post lunch. England got a good partnership going through Sam Curran and Moeen Ali. As the day progressed, the wicket got slightly slower, so that was one reason too. We were working towards picking up one wicket at a time and thought everything will fall accordingly.”

Surprisingly, on a surface that was termed ideal for batting, the new ball was doing plenty in the first session, and it caught the England batsmen off guard. The ball was swinging on and off the pitch, something Bumrah feels is contrasting to what the teams witnessed during the third Test at Trent Bridge.

“There’s a little bit of difference. Over here, when we started in the morning, there was a lot of seam and swing,” Bumrah said. “We also wanted to bat first but we didn’t expect so much aid from the pitch. This was more than what we expected so that’s always a good sing when you’re bowling first. On such occasions, you don’t want to try too much and stick to a proper line and length. That’s what we did.”

Bumrah credited Curran for his effort, mentioning that the batsman played patiently and did the right thing by leaving plenty of deliveries outside off. He however, pointed out that conditions got better for batting post lunch, and that was a key reason why India had to wait long for the remaining four wickets.

“He (Curran) played well. He was taking his chances,” said Bumrah. “When he came into bat, he was ready to play the waiting game. He left many balls as well. At that time, as the ball got older it stopped swinging a bit, and there was less seam movement. We felt that the wicket got slower as well. But once that happened, he scored some shots and got runs. After the break, we decided that we had to create pressure again.”

Taking off from where he left off at Trent Bridge, Bumrah was hostile in his spell of fast bowling. His first wicket – of Keaton Jennings – was raw and pacey, a delivery that the batsmen had no clue of. Jennings got himself into an awkward position wanting to leave the delivery, but the ball rapped him on his inner leg and he was declared out leg-before wicket.

“Whenever you get a wicket it feels good. Whenever a plan works, it’s a good feeling as well. I can’t really say anything about a dream delivery but when an early wicket falls, that’s always helpful, and that was the positive we took from that delivery,” he said.

On a second straight occasion, Bumrah was given the new ball, and the 23-year-old responded well to his captain Virat Kohli’s call. The fact that Bumrah has been able to transfer his traits white ball to the red ball has been his biggest feature, and India’s biggest gain. Bumrah asserted that adding to his variations is something he always pays close attention to.

“There’s always a lot of hard work involved because I try and learn new things in my armoury because it’s always better when you have plenty of options. It keeps you in a good space while bowling. That has always been my aim. I am never too happy at getting a wicket because I want to keep on improving and come up with more stock of deliveries,” Bumrah said.

“It’s not just the new ball. I usually have the inswinger as well. I used it to bowl Chris Gayle during the World T20. So it’s not a new delivery. When you have too many options, you don’t need to use all of them at once.”