India vs England: Jasprit Bumrah shines with spot-on captaincy in Edgbaston Test

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Jasprit Bumrah ran over to Shardul Thakur and put his arm around him. A few moments later Rishab Pant ran to shake his hand. Thakur had dropped a straight forward skier of Ben Stokes. It was a crucial phase of the game. Stokes and Jonny Bairstow had added 30 runs in the previous three overs. Mohammed Shami was dejected, but Bumrah the skipper and Pant the vice-captain ensured Thakur had a smile on his face after the mishap.

It was Bumrah’s second day on the field as a captain. He could have let the emotions get the better of him, but instead, he was encouraging. This was a man that had never led at any level. The challenge for Bumrah was always going to be the way he balanced the bowling, fielding changes, tactics and rotation of the bowlers.

On day two, with the ball in hand, he bowled disciplined lines with the new ball and knocked over Alex Lees and Zac Crawley early on. While the ball still had its shine, four slips were employed as Bumrah and Shami tested the outside edge. A couple of cover drives from the English batsmen and Bumrah simply clapped from mid-on. There was no change in the field. The cover was left vacant to tempt Ollie Pope into a false drive. The England No.3 took the bait and perished edging to the second slip.

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The rain breaks allowed Bumrah to partner with Shami for a longer duration. The smartness in the Indian attack was prevalent when Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow started to attack. Both Shami and Bumrah changed their line of attack. Both focused on shaping the ball in rather than looking for the outside edge. A fielder at midwicket was brought in place and a short mid-on was stationed for Shami. The clever tactics slowed down the scoring rate. Root and Bairstow only managed to score a solitary run from 24 balls.

Bumrah could have bowled an extra over, but he turned to Mohammad Siraj. He had confidence in his peer to apply the pressure. Siraj hardly gave Root any width and it led to the England No.4 edging behind. Bumrah had got it spot on.

Back to day three, England had broken the shackles and Thakur had put down a simple catch. Bumrah ensured Thakur had a smile on his face moments after the missed opportunity. He wanted his fourth pace bowling option to be in a positive frame of mind. An over later, Thakur was given an opportunity to redeem himself.

The third ball from Thakur was hit straight to Bumrah. He spilled the catch. India had missed another and Stokes was given another life. Bumrah was disappointed, but next ball, he got another opportunity. This time he dived full stretch to his left and latched on to a spectacular catch. The whole team ran to embrace the skipper. In the space of five minutes, Bumrah's life as a captain had gone full circle.

Watch: Virat Kohli and Jonny Bairstow's fiery exchange on Day 3 of Edgbaston Test

Despite losing Ben Stokes for 25, Bairstow added 92 with Sam Billings as England went from 83-5 to 241-6. It felt like England were gaining momentum. Bairstow and Billings had negotiated Bumrah’s spell. The Indian captain could have turned to the fresher Siraj or Jadeja, but instead, he opted for Shami, who had already bowled 12 overs in the day.

It might have been a gamble, but it proved to be a masterstroke. Bairstow flashed one to first slip and the tide had turned once again. Now it was time for the fresher Siraj. Bumrah had ensured Siraj had remained fresh and had the energy to bowl bumpers to the England tailenders. The plan worked as Siraj picked up the last three wickets to give India a healthy lead of 132.

Bumrah the leader had passed the test. Standing at mid-on for the majority of the opening session Bumrah ensured Shami never got frustrated despite beating the bat on close to 15 occasions. He changed the field with guidance from Pant and Virat Kohli. He persisted with Shami for a long spell from one end knowing a wicket was just around the corner.

Even when Kohli demanded a change in the field, he stuck to his gut instincts. He didn’t get overly defensive and remained calm making all the decisions. Just when the day came to a close, he sat there with his pads ready to come out as the nightwatchman. Importantly, he had a smile on his face. If Bumrah and the Indian bowlers can execute equally well in the second innings then chances are India would win the Test match.

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