Melbourne: Skipper Virat Kohli rated Jasprit Bumrah as the ‘best (fast) bowler in the world’ and someone even he would have been ‘scared to face’ on a bouncy Perth wicket. Courtesy Bumrah’s match haul of 9 for 86, that helped India to take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the four-match series.
“Jasprit obviously is the best bowler in the world, as per me. He is a match winner, without doubt, even if he has only been playing (Test cricket) for 12 months,” Kohli was lavish in his praise for the Gujarat bowler, who has taken 48 wickets in his memorable season in Test cricket. The skipper then paid a rare compliment which possibly is the one that the pacer would treasure for the rest of his life.
“I mean if there was a pitch like Perth, I wouldn’t want to face Jasprit Bumrah to be honest because if he gets on a roll, he can really crank it up. The way he bowls is so much more different to anyone and I think he realizes that more than the batsmen. That’s why he is so confident about his skills,’ the skipper said. Kohli said that it was Bumrah’s ‘amazing fitness levels and work ethic’ along with skill set that prompted him and coach Ravi Shastri to seriously consider him for the Test series in South Africa.
What has specially caught the skipper’s imagination is Bumrah’s bullishness when it comes to aiming for the jugular. “He is as strong headed as I have seen anyone in the past and that’s the key to his success, and that’s what I have seen in the past 12 months. The way he has matured and the areas he has bowled so quickly in his Test career I think it’s a scary sign for the batsmen around the world,” Kohli had a word of caution for batsmen around the world.
The skipper also credited Cheteshwar Pujara as he has been ‘flexible in altering his game’ as per team’s demands which has got him success according to Kohli. Pujara didn’t have a great tour of SENA countries (South Africa, England, New Zealand and Australia) during the 2014-15 season but is now topping charts after three Tests with 328 runs in three games with two hundreds in team’s winning cause.
“Pujara has been a lot more flexible in altering his game very quickly. From the last time he played in Australia, he has made a few changes to his set-up, and that’s working for him. He is embracing the fact that if something has been told to him and he has to work on those things, he has worked on it,” Kohli said about one of his trusted lieutenants.
With a bowling attack that can get 20 wickets in any conditions, Pujara’s role becomes even more crucial reckons Kohli. “And now that we have the bowling attack that we can rely on to get us 20 wickets and his role becomes even more crucial. If he can bat time and hold one end, and all the other batsmen can bat positively around him, we get 350, touching 400, in conditions in Australia, which puts us in a great position to get a result. He (Pujara) realises that even more now. Because of the bowling attack that we have, his job is to hold one end and bat for long hours so that we have a great opportunity to get big runs and put them out of the game. I think that confidence that is seen is because of them (bowlers) and he is embracing that very well,” Kohli reasoned.
India have won two Tests in a single series in Australia after 41 years (last time in 1977-78 when Bishan Bedi’s side lost 2-3) but the skipper is neither shocked nor surprised with his team’s stellar show. “We knew we had enough time,” said Kohli on Sunday. “We always knew we could do this. So although we are very happy, we are not shocked or very surprised by what’s happened. We have always believed that it is very possible because of the talent we have in the side and the mindset that we have been carrying in the last 12 months regardless of what’s been said and regardless of the mistakes we have made,’ said Kohli.