Saturday, June 10, 2023

Jasprit Bumrah helps India secure Test series victory over Sri Lanka | Sporting News Australia

After India won the Mohali Test against Sri Lanka inside three days, there was little chance of the pink-ball match lasting any longer in Bengaluru. Any slim hopes on that front were dashed with the utterly dry pitch at the Chinanaswamy Stadium, where the ball set off puffs of dust nearly every time it was pitched. With teams chasing World Test Championship points, we continued to see home advantage being pushed towards the extreme at times. India has now wrapped up the two-Test series 2-0 with a 238-run win under lights in their last assignment before the Indian Premier League begins on March 26. We now take a look at a few talking points from the Bengaluru Test.

Boom transcends conditions again

On a spinning pitch where the opposition pacers took a combined two wickets, and his own illustrious colleague Mohammed Shami also claimed two, Jasprit Bumrah grabbed eight. He now has five-wicket hauls in every country he’s played in – Australia, England, India, South Africa, West Indies – barring New Zealand. At this rate, the only thing that remains is a five-for on a mattress. Bumrah’s three second-innings strikes were a fine demonstration of his strengths – full, quick, swinging and attacking the stumps. It was too good for Lahiru Thirimanne off the third delivery he faced. It was too good for his opening partner and Sri Lanka skipper Dimuth Karunaratne off the 174th delivery he faced. That’s the thing with Bumrah; no matter how long you have been at the crease, you can never really claim to have got your eye in against him. The unplayable ball is invariably around the corner. Bumrah took a wicket every 14 deliveries in Bengaluru, and he didn’t stop until he’d run through the opposition twice. Surely that strike-rate has to belong somewhere in fast-bowling folklore.

The Iyer masterclass against spin

Shreyas Iyer is rated so highly against slow bowling that IPL franchises dearly want him so that they can attack spin in the middle overs of a T20 innings. Opportunities in Test cricket have taken a long time to arrive and he has shown he is more than ready for the challenge. In Bengaluru, Iyer made 92 off 98 and 67 off 87 in a twin masterclass on how to hit good spin bowling in difficult conditions. His reflexes were so good that even when he was beaten in flight, he had time to halt his forward press and run the ball past slip. When the ball hastened into him, he was able to slam it over midwicket even if he was out of position for the pull. And dare one say it, those inside-out drives through extra cover were reminiscent of one VVS Laxman. Iyer came in at 86/4 in the first innings and saw Rishabh Pant fall soon but still ensured India got past 250. It’s safe to say he’s established himself for now in home conditions.

Pant’s genius shines through

Eighty-nine runs at a strike-rate of 156 on a turning track. Fastest Test fifty by an Indian. Some way or another a record is always under threat when Pant is in the mood; and when is he not in the mood? Second ball in, he charged out and swung a six over cow corner between two men posted in the deep. Sixth ball, he made room and cut a ball for four from the line of middle and leg. Eighth ball, he reverse-swept for four more. Each time you think, ‘you’ve got to be kidding’, and each time, he gets away with something more ridiculous. Surely he won’t play that falling lap-sweep so early in a Test match? Of course, he will. The ball is exploding off the surface, but in Pant’s world, there are more boundaries to be collected before he inevitably mishits one. His execution is as audacious as his imagination, if not more. He’s already hit 44 sixes in 30 Tests; MS Dhoni struck 78 in 90. If Pant hasn’t already redefined Test batting, he certainly will, soon.

Captain Karunaratne, the loan warrior

In 2017, on a Sinhalese Sports Club turner against R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja in Colombo, Dimuth Karunaratne had battled for six hours to make 141 off 307. It made no difference to the result, India still won comfortably by an innings, but the fight had been fought. Similarly, in Bengaluru, Karunaratne stood firm amid the ruins to compile 107 off 174 in the second innings. No Karunaratne effort is complete without those characteristic nudges and whips through mid-on and midwicket, and there were plenty of those at the Chinnaswamy. Given the nature of the surface and the quality of the Indian bowling attack, there were edges and close shaves too, but unlike his team-mates, Karunaratne didn’t give it away. Barring Kusal Mendis’ 54, the third-highest contribution in the Sri Lankan second innings was extras at 20. There is a calming quality to Karunaratne’s presence in the middle, and it took a special delivery from Bumrah to finally dislodge him. As he said, “We batted under lights and it was tough. But I have worked hard on my batting.”

Farewell, unsung hero Lakmal

Over a span of nearly 12 years, 70 Test matches and 171 wickets at an average of 36.44 may not sound like much. But take these numbers in isolation for an Asian fast bowler. That Suranga Lakmal lasted this long in international cricket, and kept making successful comebacks injury after injury are praiseworthy achievements on their own. That he finishes as the fourth–highest wicket-taker in Test cricket for Sri Lanka is immense. Ahead of him is only the legendary trio of Sri Lankan bowling: Muttiah Muralitharan, Rangana Herath and Chaminda Vaas. No wonder that as soon as Bumrah bowled Lakmal to end the Bengaluru Test, he immediately ran up to congratulate his fellow pacer on a solid career. Both know the unforgiving conditions in which they punish their bodies day after day. If there is any lasting image of Lakmal, it will be that of him running in smoothly from that long run-up and delivering ball after ball in the channel outside off stump. It was hot, humid and never easy, but he persisted until the very end.

Nation World News Desk
Nation World News Desk
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