Former India fast bowler and currently the bowling coach of the Chennai Super Kings has heaped praise on the Indian pace attack highlighting the skill-set brought by each of the trio of Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma. Looking ahead at India’s four month long tour of England which starts with the final of the World Test Championship commencing in Southampton from the 18th of June, Balaji, in an Exclusive with Cricketnext, spoke about the unique qualities of Bumrah while also comparing the similarities in style and action between him and Mohammed Siraj.
Bumrah has had an exceptional start to his Test career with 83 wickets in 19 matches at an average of 22.1 and strike rate of 49 and Balaji stated that was absolutely impossible to find a like for like replacement for the fast bowler as he was extremely talented. However, Balaji added that in Siraj he sees someone who has the same qualities as Bumrah with a lot of similarities in action, line and length and delivery.
“With Bumrah’s talent, you have to see a similar replacement for him. He cannot be identically replaced as he is an exceptionally talented bowler. He is a match-winner. At the same time, you have an opportunity for an identical talent to thrive, say Siraj. The ball pretty much comes out of the hand perpendicular, angles away from the left-hander, straightens for the right-hander. They are almost identical, not exactly the same," stated Balaji.
The former Indian fast-medium bowler added that Bumrah and Siraj even have a similar pattern of dismissal and mode of getting the batsmen out. He said that if India can devise a common strategy for Bumrah and Siraj, then the latter could be an ideal replacement if and when Bumrah is injured or not available.
“The ball path, dismissal patterns are similar – LBW, bowled, caught behind. If Bumrah is not there, who gives almost the same, if not exactly the same, performance? Find a formula. Similar tactical discussions will help the captain, the team management, not go straight into defence but look for the offence if Bumrah is not there. India’s Test series win in Australia is a classic case. Without Bumrah and Shami, the Indian bowlers still managed to take 20 wickets. That was tactics and skills matching at the right time."
Siraj had fitted into Bumrah’s shoes almost perfectly in Australia in 2020-21. In the absence of the Indian quartet, he returned as the highest wicket-taker for India in the Test series Down Under.