Match Analysis

Bumrah perfects his latest weapon: the outswinger

It turns out he always had the outswinger, but wasn't going to bowl until he was confident with it

Sidharth Monga
Sidharth Monga
Jasprit Bumrah celebrates a wicket, West Indies v India, 1st Test, North Sound, 4th day, August 25, 2019

Jasprit Bumrah celebrates a wicket  •  Getty Images

While Ajinkya Rahane and Hanuma Vihari piled on the agony for West Indies on a sleepy Antigua morning, their team-mates, it appeared, were looking at scores updates from the Ashes. The intensity, the quality, the attention, the hype even, has been on another level in the Ashes.
The second of the Ashes Tests introduced to the world a bowler you could swear was Jasprit Bumrah's twin: both were fast-tracked after limited-overs performances, you wondered if they could bear the load of Test-match bowling, and both quickly allayed those fears. Both derive pace from short run-ups, both seem faster than the speed gun tells you, and both have shown they have instincts of veterans.
If anything, Jofra Archer received more hype than Bumrah probably because he made an impact sooner than Bumrah did. With the Ashes reaching the crescendo it did on Sunday, and with the Antigua Test turning into a sleepwalk for India, it would need something ridiculously sensational to even be talked about. Enter Bumrah.
You must remember the ball Bumrah bowled to get Keaton Jennings out lbw in Southampton in 2018. It was a landmark delivery in a way. Everything about Bumrah's run-up and his action tells you he will bring the ball back into the right-hand batsmen. Until then, he used to bowl the legcutter or get some seam movement or sometimes do the job with the ball just holding its line. Against Jennings, he unleashed the outswinger, which swung back into the left-hand batsman.
Forget Jennings' shock at the ball now swinging the other way, this is a ball that should be nigh unplayable because of the bowling mechanics of Bumrah. It turns out he always had the outswinger, but wasn't going to bowl it until he was confident with it. With the Dukes balls in the nets in England, he found that confidence to use it in a match. He has possibly spent the break between the World Cup and this series perfecting it.
In the second innings of this Test, Bumrah unleashed the absolute fury of the outswinger. The numbers were staggering. To right-hand batsmen, according to broadcasters Sony, Bumrah bowled seven outswingers every ten balls. The results were lethal. Shai Hope and Jason Holder were forced to play the angle and defend their middle stump before the ball swung away late to hit their off stumps. He also bowled the left-hand batsmen John Campbell and Darren Bravo through the gate with late swing. Kraigg Brathwaite was the only one who played an apparently poor shot, defending an outswinger wide enough to be left alone, but then again it is the Bumrah angle that makes you commit to playing the ball.
The outswinger didn't make a random appearance. After trying to get seam movement on a flat track in the first innings - bowling with a slightly stiff back and hence low on pace - Bumrah saw the ball swinging in the breeze. Ishant Sharma bowled from the end that aided his inswing. Bumrah felt this was the perfect time to go with the outswinger. So out it came with the same freak whiplash of an action, now back to the same pace, with the same venom, but now moving it away against that angle.
If India's facile domination of West Indies didn't have your attention till now, you had better watch Bumrah's spell. West Indies were simply blown away by this magical mix of pace, skill and precision: four of his five victims were bowled. Just like that, with a spell of 8-4-7-5, Bumrah now has five-fors in all four places he has toured for Test cricket: South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies. No Asian bowler has ever managed five-fors in all these countries. The great Pakistan quicks, Muttiah Muralitharan and Rangana Herath, Kapil Dev and Zaheer Khan and Anil Kumble, none of them managed it. And Bumrah has done this on his first trips to these countries.
One of the things that has added to the legend of Archer, who will likely be Bumrah's rival - and what a great rivalry it will be - in the years to come, are the random tweets in the past that have taken a life of their own with those events nearly repeating themselves in different contests and contexts. Bumrah might just have entered himself in that race. On August 18, the last day of Archer's debut Test, Bumrah quote-tweeted a photo and a caption with a bulls-eye emoji.
This is what the caption said: "This speed race wanted to know the fastest: the dogs or the cheetah. The cheetah did not move a finger and sat in place. People asked the co-ordinator what had happened. He responded: 'Sometimes trying to prove that you are the best is an insult.'"
Make of it what you will.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo