It is a human tendency to appreciate the rising sun. Something new and maverick readily catches the human eye. A bowler from Gujarat with a bowling action that nobody had seen before almost immediately caught the public eye.
He was first seen a few years ago when he featured in the IPL for Mumbai Indians. A few years later, he broke into the International circuit and has been rising through the ranks ever since. Seeing his performances in the limited over formats, cricket pundits and fans started demanding his inclusion in Test matches. In December last year, he received his maiden call for the Indian Test team touring South Africa.
Now, it is popular opinion that he must be given a go from the first match itself. One must, in the same breath, also consider the warhorses of Indian cricket that have made (and continue to make) a lot of effort for their side when the chips were down.
Umesh has toiled day in and day out in the long home season. He has bowled his heart out on slow and low pitches. On dusty tracks with the sun beating down, he has given everything he had. In temperatures in excess of 40° C, when Shami broke down quite early in the home season, Umesh took it upon himself to stick it out for his team.
Session after session, day after day, match after match, Umesh did not relent as he continuously kept crossing the 140 kmph mark. He somehow succeeded in making the ball reverse swing on pitches that were unresponsive to fast bowling.
Umesh in home season
Matches - 12, Wickets - 30, Average 36.76, Strike-rate - 71.17
He really came of age in the series against Australia in which he picked up 17 wickets. He was India’s chief weapon and was also entrusted with the new ball in the absence of Shami.
Umesh is someone who has always had raw pace. In conducive conditions, where the ball will wobble around both in the air and off the pitch, he has the potential to swing the ball at pace.
On grounds such as Newlands in Cape Town where the outfield is a bit hard due to lack of moisture (South Africa is going through its worst drought in a century), the ball may start to reverse swing after two sessions or so.
Ishant Sharma is one of the biggest enigmas of Indian cricket. Everyone has been saying for ages that the guy has innate talent. The team management has also been investing in him for a long time but that hasn't paid enough dividends.
Ishant has tried to give his best in the limited opportunities that he has got recently. When he was dropped from the side, he went back to square one. He practised hard away from all the glory. Where no TV cameras were there to capture his untiring efforts, the lanky pacer worked on his wrist position, took care of the falling head and gained a yard or two of pace.
Ishant captained Delhi in Ranji to produce some jaw-dropping performances.
Ishant Sharma, in Ranji, produced an astonishing average of under 15
Matches - 3, Wickets - 15, Average 13.93, Strike-rate 39.60
After he was recalled to the Indian side in the Test series against Australia, the spectators saw a new Ishant. They saw a bowler who was quicker than before and meant business. The seam position was upright and he was no longer falling over in his delivery stride.
Ishant is the only Indian pacer to have toured South Africa twice and his current form and experience give an edge over other bowlers. He can be one of the chief weapons due to the bouncy nature of South African pitches.
Both Ishant and Umesh were a part of the Indian squad to South Africa in 20101-11 and 2013. Although Umesh did not get a game, Ishant played all five Tests in both the tours.
We all know that experience does not have any alternative. Hence it is imperative that Bumrah learns from the sidelines for some time. He is a youngster brimming with talent and knows that his opportunities will arrive, sooner or later.
Bumrah's body has also been constantly burdened by the workload that he has had to face in the home season. He has featured in almost all ODIs and T20Is barring the last T20I against Sri Lanka in which he was rested.
Therefore, it is only logical that the likes of Ishant and Umesh who are relatively fresh must be given the nod ahead of Bumrah. He can certainly be considered for the succeeding matches. On Bumrah’s part, he must keep polishing himself. And when the opportunity presents itself, he must not hold back in showing the world what is he made of.
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