Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
Do you remember Sabina Park, September 1, 2019? Do you remember the stump mic catching Virat Kohli screaming "what a bowler, man!" as he raced towards Jasprit Bumrah from second slip, after he'd squared John Campbell up and made him nick behind?
Do you remember Bumrah not even appealing for the lbw that made him just the third Indian bowler to take a Test-match hat-trick?
That was Bumrah at the very peak of his powers, a man able to bend a cricket ball any which way he pleased, from all sorts of angles, at serious pace. At the end of that Test match, his 12th, Bumrah had 62 wickets at 19.24, numbers that only a handful of fast bowlers in history, and no one else from India, had ever matched at that stage of their careers. Anything was possible.
That anything, though, included a stress fracture of the back.
On Saturday, February 15, 2020, Bumrah bowled with a red ball in a competitive (sort of) match for the first time since that Test match in Jamaica. He'd played a bunch of white-ball games in between, eight T20Is and six ODIs, but this was different. He'd gone wicketless in his last three games, all ODIs, but this was different.
With a Test match to play in a week's time, away from home, with Ishant Sharma, another key member of India's pace attack, a doubtful starter, everyone present at Seddon Park - no more than a handful, admittedly - watched Bumrah with anxiety tugging at the pits of their stomachs. Please, let this Bumrah be something like that Bumrah, the Bumrah of Sabina Park.
In the space of eight balls, Bumrah caused much of that anxiety to subside. Was he bowling with the pace and intensity of his September pomp? Hard to say, perhaps not quite, and this was a warm-up match anyway, but none of that would have given Will Young, a 27-year-old batsman with a not-too-shabby record over 71 first-class matches, any sort of comfort.
Young defended his first ball, slanting in towards the top of his off stump, solidly enough, but pretty soon Bumrah got one to straighten against his considerable inward angle and beat the outside edge. The second ball of Bumrah's second over was similar, and Young, playing as good a defensive shot as anyone could have in those circumstances, close to his body and with soft hands, nicked it to the keeper.
The next ball was slightly shorter, and it straightened once again, zipping past Tim Seifert's back-foot block. Pretty much throughout the history of cricket, there has been no ball as dangerous as the one that angles in and straightens away, and Bumrah was landing his particularly-hard-to-play version of it in all the right spots.
Other balls kept going with the angle into the right-hander, occasionally kicking up off the bouncy Seddon Park pitch. Nearly every ball forced the batsman into indecision, and Seifert, who somehow remained on strike throughout the remainder of Bumrah's first spell, endured a torrid 20 minutes or so before he went out of the attack. Mohammed Shami came on and almost immediately got Seifert to nick a loose drive to the diving Rishabh Pant behind the stumps, but that wicket was at least partly Bumrah's.
Shami, zipping the ball through in the fourth-stump channel, seaming it this way and that, was a constant menace to the New Zealand XI batsmen too, and he eventually finished with three wickets. At the end of the day's play, one of the assembled mediapersons asked him how he had managed to develop one of the best seam positions in the game.
"When you get deeply involved in something, a kind of junoon [obsession] sets in," Shami said. "Once I realised it was an important part [of bowling], I went after it [achieving the perfect seam position] and today I have the control, thanks to Allah, that allows me to do whatever I want with the seam. Anything you want to achieve, you need to have that junoon."
Bumrah, by all accounts, is filled with exactly that kind of junoon when it comes to improving himself, and he's just as capable of doing whatever he wants with the seam of a cricket ball. Having taken his first wicket off his eighth ball of the first session, with one that seamed away, he returned after lunch to take his second wicket off his eighth ball of the second session, with one that nipped in from around a foot outside off stump.
Finn Allen shouldered arms, and heard the clink of his off bail falling to the ground.
We'll only really know if Bumrah is back to his pre-stress-fracture best when he bowls in Wellington next week, but India will be happy enough if he bowls as well there as he did on Saturday in Hamilton.