Pakistan legend Wasim Akram has laid down the gauntlet to Jasprit Bumrah, suggesting the Indian pacer should skip April’s Indian Premier League and instead play a month’s county cricket in England to become a better bowler.
The Men in Blue will take on the Three Lions over five Tests in England this coming summer, with Akram believing a stint with the Duke ball in seaming and cold conditions in April would benefit the 24-year-old tenfold.
Akram, who claimed 414 Test wicket scalps in 104 matches for his country and is widely considered one of the greatest exponents of swing bowling, kept a close eye on Indian quicks, particularly during the 2-1 Test series defeat to the Proteas.
The 51-year-old highlighted Bumrah, specifically, as a man who could benefit from more fast bowling experience away from India if he has the desire to add plenty more Test caps to the three he has already.
“If Bumrah plays at least a month of county every year, trust me, he will be a better bowler. But then Indian board has to tell Bumrah to forego a month’s IPL and play county cricket,” Akram, who was speaking to PTI on the sidelines of the Ice Cricket match played at St. Moritz in Switzerland, said.
While the riches of Bumrah’s IPL deal with the Mumbai Indians would be difficult to give up, Akram believes fast bowlers, especially, need to look at the bigger picture in order to improve.
Indeed, the former Pakistan star agreed with the recent assessment made by West Indies pace great Michael Holding that Bumrah’s hit the deck hard policy would not work on pitches in England.
He said: “I agree with Mike that you can’t hit the deck on English surfaces but that would only come with experience. Look, the BCCI doesn’t allow the India’s main stars to play county cricket.
“If Bumrah can learn how to straighten the ball after pitching coming from wide off the crease, more often than not, it will be his wicket-taking delivery. He just needs to use a bit of wrists for that.”
Meanwhile, Akram has been impressed with Bhuvneshwar Kumar, a stalwart for India in all forms, after the 28-year-old claimed 10 wickets in two Tests against South Africa at an average of 20.30.
He said: “Bhuvneshwar Kumar has been the most impressive pacer in South Africa, in Test and ODIs, as far as my assessment goes. He was getting the ball to swing both ways. He has increased pace now and has become all the more effective,”
India are slated to play five Tests, three ODIs and as many T20Is in their long tour of England starting this July.
The hosts kept the series alive with a fighting five-wicket win after India had posted 289-7 batting first. The rain delays had led to a revised target of 202 for the Proteas to get from 28 overs and some fine hitting by Heinrich Klaasen and David Miller saw them over the line.
“The main reason was, of course, the dropped catch and then a wicket off no-ball. From there the momentum changed. Otherwise we were in very good position,” Dhawan said after India’s defeat.
“Of course rain had an impact too. Our spinners couldn’t turn the ball or grip the ball the way they did in the last three matches. It makes a difference when the ball gets wet. That’s the reason,” he added.
The left-hander had earlier become the first Indian batsman to register a century in his 100th ODI appearance.
India’s wrist-spinners, especially Chahal, took some punishment from the Proteas batsman after having dominated them in the first three ODIs. Chahal was taken to the cleaners by Miller and Klaasen and finished with figures of 1-68 off just five and a half overs. Kuldeep Yadav, on the other hand, returned with two wickets off his six overs but was smashed for 51 runs.
However, Dhawan backed the duo to come back strongly in the remainder of the series.
“See they are young guys. They have been doing very well, more than well for us. These two spinners have won three games for us. My support is always with them. Anyone can have a bad day,” he stated.
“It’s not something that happens every time. Like our spinners don’t often bowl no balls. Even if they get hit, they will learn a lot of things,” he added.
On his part, Dhawan was delighted with his 13th ODI century and described it as a perfect innings.
“It was a picture perfect innings. I enjoyed it. It cannot get any better. In my 100th match, I scored a century. I’m very happy about that. Obviously they had their plans, but I adjusted to those things and started off well,” he remarked.
The hosts did well to pull things back and restrict India to 289-7 in the PinkDay ODI before getting over the line with a revised target of 202 in 28 overs due to a rain delay.
Here, we look at the things learned as India’s dream of capturing a maiden series win in South Africa was put on hold momentarily in Johannesburg.
DHAWAN’S 100 IN 100TH
Playing in his 100th ODI for India, Shikhar Dhawan made it an occasion to remember as he slammed his 13th century in style. The left-handed opener did not have it all his own way as he was beaten multiple times by South Africa’s bowlers through the course of his innings, narrowly escaping playing onto his stumps on two instances.
However, he ploughed on and when chances presented themselves, he grabbed them with some emphatic pulls and flicks to the on-side. The 32-year-old brought up the second consecutive century stand of over 100 runs with skipper Virat Kohli as he became the first Indian batsman to score a century on his 100th appearance, and ninth overall.
Dhawan’s 4,309 runs make him the second-highest run-getter after 100 ODIs in international cricket, behind only Hashim Amla’s tally of 4,808.
HEINRICH KLASSEN’S CREATIVITY IS KEY
The wicket-keeper batsman only got his chance due to an injury to Quinton de Kock but he made it count with a cameo as entertaining as they come. Throughout the series, India’s wrist-spinners have been on top of the Proteas, but Klaasen had come prepared to ruffle their feathers.
The right-hander used sweeps and reverse sweeps to great effect against the spinners on Saturday to put them off their game. For once, the spin-twins were made to doubt themselves and Klaasen, along with David Miller, inflicted maximum punishment to pull South Africa ahead after India had dominated for much of the chase.
Terrific counter attack by Miller & Klaasen when the chips were down has tamed India’s dreaded spinners. SA had missed such spiritedness yet
— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) February 10, 2018
YUZVENDRA CHAHAL BLOWS IT BIG TIME
It was all going well for India’s wrist-spinners at the start when Kuldeep Yadav came on. The youngster picked up two wickets in an economical first-spell to put India on top. So when Yuzvendra Chahal castled Miller in his first over, it looked like the spinners would run away with the game once again.
Unfortunately for the visitors, Chahal was found to have overstepped his mark and Miller had to be called back, all the way from the pavilion. From there, things went from bad to worse for Chahal and Kuldeep as the batsmen made hay. The former subsequently overstepped once more and was hit for a huge six off the free hit.
He finished with figures of 1-68 from his five-and-a-half overs to cap off a miserable night.
What is Chahal bowling?
— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) February 10, 2018
ROHIT SHARMA’S WRETCHED TOUR CONTINUES
It is simply not happening for Rohit Sharma. The opening batsman had a poor Test series where he accumulated only 78 runs in four innings and has carried that form over to the limited-overs clashes with three poor outings in the opening three ODIs.
He did not fare any better on Saturday as he fell for just five runs as Kagiso Rabada inflicted a brilliant caught and bowled. This is now the sixth instance in eight innings that Rohit has succumbed to the young pacer.
With this, Rohit has now scored only 40 runs in the four ODIs with a high score of 20, underlining a series to forget so far for Kohli’s deputy.