A few months back, Jasprit Bumrah was just another Indian teenager belonging to a middle-class family, coping with studies and trying to sneak in as much time as he can to play cricket. However, one sudden day, a godfather emerged and led him into a whole new world; a world of which young Jasprit hesitated to even dream of.
Today, young Jasprit finds himself breathing the same air, sharing the same space and eating the same food as the men he grew up idolising. The 19-year-old pacer from Ahmedabad is now playing in the Pepsi IPL 2013 as part of the Mumbai Indians.
To add further romance to his story, in the tie against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, he became the second Mumbai Indians bowler to pick three wickets on debut. The first was Lasith Malinga, who missed the match due to injury.
For Bumrah it all began in the school, as it does for most kids. “I started playing cricket during my summer holidays after class X. Then I began to attend other summer camps and play regularly,” Bumrah said as he shared his fascinating story with iplt20.com.
The first step post-summer camps came when Bumrah made his Twenty20 debut for Gujarat in the 2013 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (India’s domestic T20 tournament). His 3 for 14 in the final against Punjab helped Gujarat lift the trophy.
But Bumrah’s fate was written a few days before his title-winning performance. On March 13 as he plied his trade against Mumbai in Ahmedabad, Bumrah had a watcher in Mumbai Indians’ newly appointed coach, John Wright. The medium pacer went wicketless in that match and managed a scalp in the next. But Wright saw something that most didn’t and suggested his name to the franchise.
“John Wright had come to watch one of our T20 matches and he watched me bowl in two games,” Bumrah recollects. “He didn’t talk to me or hinted anything. After he went, I got a call asking if I was interested in signing a contract with the Mumbai Indians.”
What stands out in Bumrah’s demeanour is his habit of responding to questions in as few words as he can manage and the quiet confidence that he exudes. Any kid who enters a room filled with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting and Anil Kumble with only nine Twenty20s under his belt to show for his cricketing experience, would resemble a bundle of nerves. But not this kid.
“I did feel a little overawed by all the big players in the team initially. But they were so welcoming and friendly, they made me feel at ease and helped me mix up in the dressing room very quickly,” Bumrah said with a straight face.
His confidence came to the fore when he claimed to be fully prepared for the biggest cricket match of his life. “I was preparing my best but didn’t know until the last moment that I was playing. The coach declared the Playing XI before the match and my name was on the list.
“It was the first time that I played in front of such huge crowd but I wasn’t paying any attention to the crowd. The more you focus on the inside, the better it is,” Bumrah said, referring to the thousands of cheering RCB fans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
While his calming traits could be observed by talking to him, there was a side to this shy little boy that came out when he claimed his first IPL wicket. After he trapped Virat Kohli lbw off the fifth ball of his first over, the tiny teenager indulged in aggressive celebration of air-punching and screaming.
When asked about the gesture, all he offered was, “He had hit me for three boundaries in that over and so I was angry.” When inquired whether that was just the enormity of occasion that got to him, he shot back, “I am always like this on the field.”