Year ago people asked if I am finished, now they say I am at my best: Bumrah

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India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's captain Babar Azam during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Sunday, June 9, 2024.

India's Jasprit Bumrah celebrates the dismissal of Pakistan's captain Babar Azam during the ICC Men's T20 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan at the Nassau County International Cricket Stadium in Westbury, New York, Sunday, June 9, 2024.

New York: Jasprit Bumrah couldn't help but laugh at how the narrative about him has changed in a year's time -- from being someone whose career is finished to the one who is at the peak of his prowess.

In 2022, Bumrah underwent surgery for a lower back stress fracture and missed the T20 World Cup in Australia. Just before his comeback in a home bilateral series, he developed a strain and was out for more than 10 months. As a result, people became sceptical of his ability to handle the workload of three formats.

But Indian cricket's rare gem sealed the lips of 'Doubting Thomases' with 67 wickets across three formats in the last one year, including a match-winning 3/14 against Pakistan in the low-scoring T20 World Cup thriller on Sunday.

"See a year ago, the same people were saying that I might not play again and my career is over and then now the question changed," he said taking a shot at all those who doubted his ability to fight back.

India restricted Pakistan to 113/7 after posting a mere 119 here thanks largely to Bumrah's stupendous performance.

He understands the fickle nature of criticism and knows that despite being a cliched phrase, controlling the controllables works best for him.

"For me, I am not looking at whether I am bowling at the best of my ability. I try to solve the problem that is there in front of me. I know it's a cliched answer...but I was trying to focus on what is the best option over here on a wicket like this," the 30-year-old revealed.

"How do I make shot-making difficult? What are the best options for me? So that way, I try to stay in the present and focus on what I have to do."

No baggage of IPL

Outside noise and pressure can gobble one up in a high-stakes game. But its' something that Bumrah successfully avoids by creating his his own bubble.

"Because if I look at the outside noise, if I look at people and pressure and emotion takes over, then things don't really work for me," the 30-year-old explained.

The IPL-17, that concluded last month saw an unprecedented 1260 sixes being hit on tracks that resembled roadways. The 'Impact Player' rule also hurt top quality bowlers who were often dispatched to the stands with disdain.

"When it's bat vs bat, I switch off the TV. I have been a fan of bowling since childhood. When there is a challenge between bat and ball, that is the game I like," Bumrah said.

But the Indian bowling unit that has come for the T20 World Cup hasn't shown any scars of the IPL.

"Obviously, the IPL that we played was not very bowler-friendly but we are very happy that we didn't come here with that baggage and when we are getting help here, we were trying to use it.

"I have played a lot of cricket in my young years. - when the bat and ball challenge is good it is more interesting to watch the match."

Rohit, Bumrah and the 'MI template'

Bumrah, the bowler, has played most of his franchise cricket under Rohit Sharma's captaincy. The captain-strike bowler combination was central to Mumbai Indians' five title wins and Bumrah saidn he knew how to control low-scoring games.

"So, once we started, we were very clear the message in the huddle was that now that is over, what is next? What are the things that are in our control? So, we will try to focus on that and not to create panic because yes, there will be boundaries here and there.

"People might play good shots, but we'll have to try and be composed and try to hold our shape. So that was the biggest positive, not at any stage did I feel that the panic had spread in the team and we were looking too far ahead. So that's a really positive sign for us."

Magic deliveries often don't work

Low-scoring matches often force bowlers to try effort deliveries like yorkers or bouncers but Bumrah doesn't want anyone to overdo that stuff.

"If we go for magic deliveries and try to be too desperate, run-making becomes easy and they know the target. So, we had to be very mindful of not overdoing it," he said.

"Whenever there is help, you can get excited. You can try pole hunting -- bowl bouncers, out-swingers, in-swingers. But you don't have to do that. I have learned that.

"But this time, it was not happening a lot. The ball was not doing a lot. Yes, we did create pressure. A little bit of lateral movement was there but not too much, not as pronounced as the last game."

'Jassi Jaisa Koi Nahin'

As one of greatest pacers active currently, Bumrah could well be called the leader of 'Fast Bowlers' Union'.

"I always advocate bowlers, but we're very happy with the appreciation that bowlers have received because our country is obviously a batsman-loving country and we understand but we are very happy that bowlers are coming up front," Bumrah said.