No one believed he could play Tests- Shastri reveals how he helped Bumrah debut in South Africa

Jasprit Bumrah burst into the scenes in 2013 when he debuted for Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) that season. He was known for his variations, especially his execution of the yorker. The pacer made his international debut for India in January 2016 and was termed as a white-ball specialist.

Jasprit Bumrah ultimately made his Test debut in 2018 and recently became the fastest Indian pacer to reach 100 wickets in the longest format.

Team India coach Ravi Shastri was among the few who believed Bumrah could succeed in Test cricket. He said that it was his plan to not ‘reveal’ the pacer till the South Africa tour in 2018.

“No one believed Jasprit Bumrah could play Test cricket. He was a white-ball bowler. But when I took over as coach I asked myself: ‘How do I take 20 wickets overseas?’ “I knew I needed four great fast bowlers because I had played so much Test cricket against the West Indies. It started in South Africa in 2018 and we lost that fantastic series 2-1.

I wanted to unleash Bumrah in that first Test in Cape Town. I bounced the idea off Virat months before and told the selectors: ‘Do not unleash him in India. I don’t want the world to see him in Test cricket before Cape Town.’ That was three years ago. Since then he’s taken 101 wickets [in 24 Tests]. It’s remarkable,” Shastri told The Guardian.

Bumrah was an instant success in the Test when he breached the defense of AB de Villiers in the first Test at Cape Town. The speedster has taken giant leaps forward to become the leader of Team India’s bowling attack.

The Gujrat pacer played crucial roles in the back-to-back series wins in Australia in 2018-19 and later in 2020-21. He also has a Test hat-trick to his name, which came against the West Indies.

When asked about the outcome of the series against England which is still undecided with India leading 2-1 after four Tests and the fifth Test being canceled due to COVID-19 cases in the Indian camp, Shastri said that his team had an upper hand in the series.

“I think so because you are playing overseas and you’re ahead with one game to go. Look at the first Test [India were 52 for one and chasing 209 when the rain ruined the final day]. We would have knocked off those runs, definitely. It could have easily been 3-1. Then no one would have cared for the last Test,” he said.

Bumrah will be seen playing in the second half of the IPL 2021 with his team the Mumbai Indians taking on Chennai Super Kings on Sept 19.