When Jasprit Bumrah hurt his thumb on the first day of India's tour in Malahide there were furrowed brows around the India management.
A fractured finger, sustained during the first T20 against Ireland, ruled him out for the entire limited-overs leg and the first two Tests. India had lost a big matchwinner on the first day of their tour. On Tuesday, that matchwinner turned up and proved why he is so crucial to India in all forms of cricket.
The beauty about Bumrah is he has a thinking mind. He is a fast bowler hungry for a contest. In the nets and in real time Bumrah talks wickets and strategies. You can read his body language - always ready to pit himself against the best.
It was a day made for Bumrah. The ball was new. Ishant Sharma had sent back the England openers, making use of the cloudy morning. India now wanted England captain Joe Root. Bumrah was the man Virat Kohli was looking to because of his ability to take the ball away using the seam. Bumrah tested Root with movement, varying lengths and fired in the yorker a few times. Once Root nearly scooped the ball towards R Ashwin at mid-on but the ball fell short.
Eventually Bumrah lured Root into playing at a seaming-away delivery that took a thick edge into KL Rahul's hands at second slip. It was not a moment of distraction from Root. It was Bumrah's application and pressure that forced him to play at a delivery he could have left alone. Mohammed Shami then easily preyed on the aggressive mindset of Ollie Pope who succumbed. England were 62 for 4. It almost became 62 for 5.
Jos Buttler is a nervous starter. Bumrah produced a similar delivery to the one which had removed Root. Buttler, too, was opened up and he edged. Unfortunately for Bumrah, Rishabh Pant had already moved to his left and tried to improvise belatedly in vain. Bumrah just smiled. That is his usual expression at most times.
Bumrah has this amazing quality to switch off from what has happened and move on. Buttler and Ben Stokes resisted any further surges and took England to the second session. After lunch Trent Bridge basked in sunshine. It became bright and sunny more than at any point of time this match. The ball was getting old, but Bumrah was on the prowl. Using his unique release position, which comes off a whippy arm from an angle that suggests the ball will dart in, Bumrah can tease and flummox the batsman with seam movement away from him. Buttler once again fell for the trick. Once again edged. This time it fell short of Cheteshwar Pujara at first slip. England were 120 for 4 at the time.
Bumrah did not let out a sigh of disgust. He waved his arms signalling Pujara to come a step forward. For the rest of the session Buttler and Stokes tested India's patience, plans and nerves. India might have got a tad restless. But Bumrah was waiting for the new ball. When Kohli took it, he threw it straight to Bumrah. He went wide of the crease and pitched on a length. Buttler left it alone. He got lucky as the ball skimmed over the bails. Next over Buttler once again left a similar delivery. This time the ball darted into his pad.
Buttler was honest enough to admit that it is impossible to read Bumrah despite having played for the same team - Mumbai Indians - in the IPL. Bumrah, Buttler said, asks a batsman "different" questions. "He generates good pace with that action. Creates a different angle to what you usually face. Definitely a guy who poses some different questions to the norm."
It can mess up the batsman's mind and Buttler was made to pay for his mistake. "An error of judgment," he admitted. "Trying to work out the balls to play and leave against him is quite tricky with his angle, but his ability still to hold it up and take it away from the right hander. He forces you to play a lot of balls with this angle and where he delivers from and that one just came back and I got it wrong."
Bumrah was now on the prowl once again. Jonny Bairstow, England's best top-order batsman of the series but batting down the order due to a fractured finger, could do nothing as his first ball seamed in to his off stump at rapid pace and beat his high backlift.
Chris Woakes' weakness against the short ball had been exposed by Hardik Pandya in the first innings. He was not ready for the menacing delivery that Bumrah got to climb into his face from short of a length. Michael Holding, the former West Indies fast bowler, commentating on Sky Sports, said that was the perfect bouncer he had seen from a fast bowler in modern Test cricket for a long, long time. It was indeed a delivery worthy such high praise.
Bumrah's clarity of thinking is one of his standout features and he explained later his state of mind as Buttler and Stokes played out England's first wicketless session in this series between lunch and tea. "I have a clear plan, a clear head and a clear space of mind," he said.
A menace in limited-overs cricket, Bumrah said the difference in Tests was about maintaining control and accuracy for longer period of time. "In white-ball cricket you outsmart the batsman. In Test cricket it is all about patience and consistency. You can't blast the batsmen out."
He would have removed Adil Rashid, but his heal just landed on the popping crease when he had the batsman caught in the slips. A section of the England fans booed Bumrah. As Kohli took the extra 30 minutes, he brought Bumrah back immediately. Bumrah opened up Stuart Broad and India were one wicket away from victory. In a rare show of emotion Bumrah charged to one of the side pitch and, waving to the fans, pointed both hands downwards to the ground as if to say: "I am here to stay."
Playing his maiden Test in England, and only his fourth overall, delivering for the first time with the Dukes ball, Bumrah ended up being Kohli's go-to man.