A standout feature of Jasprit Bumrah's young career thus far has been his willingness and ability to learn and evolve. While "learning" rolls off many cricketers' tongues as a stock cliché, Bumrah means it. Last year, when he said he had learnt something new in each of his first three seasons in the IPL, it wasn't tall talk. In 2013, Bumrah was schooled in the art of pre-game preparation and managing different situations. When he became one of Mumbai Indians' lead bowlers next year, he absorbed the lessons of carrying good form and sustaining it over a length of time. Even his injury was an opportunity to learn: ahead of the 2015 edition, he sought out senior bowlers to understand how to prepare for a comeback.
At 23, Bumrah has already made strong strides towards becoming a more rounded bowler. From someone who relied heavily on an amalgam of a whippety, awkward action, inch-perfect yorkers and slower deliveries, he has now proven to be adept at taking wickets with length deliveries. During India's 5-0 ODI thumping of Sri Lanka recently, Bumrah emerged as the leading wicket-taker on either side with 15 scalps at an economy-rate of less than four and was named Man of the Series. Nine of those wickets came via deliveries that were pitched either on good length or on the shorter side of it. The yorkers made an appearance only on eight occasions, thus retaining their shock value. He also straddled the twin roles of opening the bowling and operating at the death.
Bumrah's rapid growth wasn't lost on his captain Virat Kohli, who called him India's "most effective short-format bowler" in the last year and a half. "He has really worked on his bowling a lot - especially his length ball, which has picked up more pace," Kohli said at the end of the series. "It's not only about yorkers and slower balls anymore. He can bowl a good length ball and nick you off as well, which I think is the biggest improvement in his bowling. Credit to him for shaping his game in that way."
By his own admission, Bumrah has had many mentors right from Sachin Tendulkar to Ricky Ponting and Lasith Malinga to Shane Bond. He feels much of his improvement is down to relentlessly picking another bowler's brain - be it a peer or a senior. "We just want to improve all the time," Bumrah said on the eve of the first T20I against Australia in Ranchi. "We keep asking questions to each other and we keep learning from the senior players - what else we can do, how to improve ourselves, how to adapt to different conditions and different wickets. So, our main focus is that. We don't focus on the results. We just want to focus on the training and we want to get better and better after each and every game."
With Ashish Nehra's return, Bumrah will also have another familiar mentor to lean on for advice. Earlier this year, Bumrah and Nehra combined to throttle England by five runs in Nagpur. Despite an age difference of 15 years, Bumrah enjoys a great comfort level with his senior partner. "He is a very experienced player and I have played some cricket with him during the T20 World Cup," Bumrah said. "It's always great fun playing alongside him. He has got plenty of experience to share and is very helpful. As a youngster, I keep asking him questions and seek his advice. The team atmosphere also becomes very good with his presence, so it's very nice to see him back."
With rain thwarting India's training session on Friday, some of the players, including MS Dhoni, Hardik Pandya and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, tried their hand at foot-volley in the dressing room balcony. Bumrah appeared to stand in a corner and watch them in action. Don't be surprised if he learns a few tricks there and masters those, too.
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun