On April 4, 2013, by giving Jasprit Bumrah his Indian Premier League debut, the Mumbai Indians set in motion a sequence of events that took them to the very top of the ladder.
The young bowler with the awkward-looking action has matured into one of the finest fast bowlers in the world and his splendid performances for MI in the IPL have made them one of the best T20 teams in the world.
Bumrah was first scouted by former India coach John Wright, who then worked for the Mumbai Indians. The New Zealander was in town to watch the Mumbai vs Gujarat match in the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament when the fast bowler caught his eye.
“I always give a lot of credit to Wright,” Bumrah later said in an interview to Cricbuzz. “I tell him I’m here because of you. So we were playing the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. He had come to see us play against Mumbai. Many players from the Mumbai squad were already there in Mumbai Indians. He had come there to see them. He saw me and thought there’s something different.”
Wright had a chat with Parthiv Patel later that day and soon Bumrah was fast-tracked into the Mumbai Indian squad.
But while Bumrah had the raw talent, he knew very little about what it took to succeed at the highest level.
“When I came into the side, I was a 19-year old kid,” said Bumrah. “I was skilful but had no sense of professionalism, no training, no idea about my diet either. I couldn’t even do a pushup. Wright was always pushing me so that I could be in shape. So I said, ‘why am I doing this? I can bowl no?’ But he said, ‘No, you have to be professional’.”
The hard work paid off for Bumrah and within three years, he made his India debut. The highlight of Bumrah’s international and IPL career has not so much been the magic balls he bowls. Rather, it has been his consistency that has stood out.
Bumrah in the IPL
With Lasith Malinga having hung up his boots, Bumrah has seamlessly moved into the lead bowler mode and MI will expect him to keep doing that for a few more years to come.
He is one of the few bowlers who manages to takes wickets and keep a very tight economy rate too. He has been so good that many teams almost try to simply play out his overs and target the others in the bowling line-up.
Bumrah’s success also showed why teams need to invest in a good scouting system. With so many raw gems still to be unearthed in Indian cricket, sometimes it all comes down to someone trusting what they have just seen.