Jasprit Bumrah is amongst the best white-ball bowlers in the world    AFP
Jasprit Bumrah is amongst the best white-ball bowlers in the world AFP

Jasprit Bumrah has worked his way to the national Test side. One of the best bowlers in limited-overs, Bumrah made his international debut in January 2016, in Australia. He has not looked back since and scalped 96 wickets in international cricket. The 24-year-old received his maiden Test call-up in India’s tour of South Africa that begins next week. The first Test will be played at Newlands, Cape Town and Ashish Nehra reckons Bumrah should receive his Test cap there.

Why?

Nehra explains in an interview with PTI: “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.

“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 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.”

Nehra has bowled alongside Bumrah in T20Is in recent years till retirement and has seen his growth closely. The Delhi pacer was a part of Indian contingent in the 2001-02 tour of South Africa. Nehra had another great outing in the Rainbow nation during the 2003 World Cup.

Bumrah over Bhuvi?

Nehra wants the Indian team management to pick Bumrah ahead of Bhuvneshwar Kumar. The reason he cites is the Cape Town weather.

Ravi Shastri: South Africa tour is right time for Jasprit Bumrah to play Tests
Ravi Shastri: South Africa tour is right time for Jasprit Bumrah to play Tests

“Cape Town, during January, can get hot and the conditions may not be seam-friendly. Now if it becomes humid and the pitch is a flat one, then Bhuvneshwar may not get the desired swing and seam movement. 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 added.

Bumrah and Kookaburra

Bumrah’s red ball experience is with the SG red Test ball that is used in First-Class cricket in India. This will be Bumrah’s first tryst with the red kookaburra but Nehra goes on to dismiss that problem.

“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,” Nehra further added.

Nehra’s preferred pace trio for Cape Town

Nehra picked his preferred bowling combination for the Cape Town Test that starts on January 5. Nehra opts for 3 pacers and a spinner.

“(Mohammed) 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.

“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.

Nehra shares his insights on the other 3 pacers of the side and believes that conditions will be crucial in determining the same.

“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,” Nehra opined.

On South Africa

Nehra had no qualms in admitting South Africa’s strengths and though the hosts will be a force at home, he backed the Virat Kohli-led Indian unit to do well.

“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.