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CricViz Analysis: Bumrah’s Perfect Over

Ben Jones analyses Jasprit Bumrah’s brilliant pre-lunch spell to Shaun Marsh.

Given the moment, given the match, given the series, this was one of the great overs.

With the final six balls before the interval, Jasprit Bumrah delivered a sequence of deliveries that left bowling coaches quivering, Indian fans ecstatic, and Shaun Marsh plaintively looking around him, wondering where on earth the ball had gone.

His confusion was understandable, because Bumrah had sent down one of the great slower balls. Bowled at just 111kph, it swooped under Marsh’s bat like a seagull diving into the water to catch its prey, timing its descent to perfection. Bang on target, the ball thudded into Marsh’s pad, the only thing preventing it from cannoning into middle-stump. It was superb.

However, the context of the delivery made it even more impressive. The way the ball related to the rest of the over, the way it functioned as part of a broader, more sophisticated assault on the Australian No.4, is where its true beauty exists.

Obviously, the variation of speed was key. Every ball before the final, fatal delivery was above 139kph, Bumrah turning up the heat and pushing Marsh back into his crease, setting him up. Marsh may have left four of those five balls, but that sort of pace sustained across an over is bound to get into a batsman’s head. This made the eventual deceleration all the more effective; the sixth delivery, the wicket ball, was 34kph slower than the fifth. It was the sort of pace-change that leaves you with whiplash.

The pace was fundamental, but it was accompanied by canny control of lateral movement. Bumrah was completely on top of his wrist position, and subsequently the seam position, and used it as another means of setting Marsh up for his demise. All of those first five deliveries were away-swingers, even the second delivery was tight into the off-stump, but the final ball swung back into the left-hander. It swung 1.3°, more than any other delivery in the over. In other words, it moved in an unexpected direction, to an unexpected degree. Marsh really was out of luck.

It was an over constructed so perfectly, with such precision, that it felt almost cinematic. It may not have had the numerous play-and-misses that often define classic overs, but make no mistake – this was pretty much as good as fast bowling gets.

This shouldn’t be surprising, given that the brilliance of Bumrah is now well established. In this series, Bumrah has drawn an edge or a miss once every four deliveries. Sure, it’s a series that has been played on some tasty surfaces, but his biggest contribution has come on the flattest wicket of the lot. He has extracted every last bit of movement from every pitch he’s played on, and that is worth a huge amount to captain, coach, and spectator.

We should give credit where it’s due. India’s selectors get a hard time, and generally for good reasons; they have made numerous mistakes which have cost India numerous matches, and their legacy is unlikely to be a positive one. However, the selection of Bumrah was a masterstroke. He bowls with a short run-up, a jerky action, and had relatively little first-class experience when promoted to the Test side. All three are the sorts of reasons we hear thrown about as reasons for not picking an unorthodox player, but rather than running scared from their maverick, India’s selectors brought him into the fold. His presence in the side just gives India that little bit of spark, those skills honed in tight white-ball finishes coming to the fore in the longer, less structured form of the game. India’s selectors backed Bumrah to put those skills to use, and to find a way to succeed. He’s repaid their faith, and then some.

By contrast, Australia haven’t shown quite the same willingness to trust their white ball ‘specialists’. The promotion of Aaron Finch suggests they aren’t absolutely averse to the idea, but he has been shoe-horned into the side playing in a position he doesn’t occupy for his state. That smacks of a whim, a gut-feel selection not built from knowledge or assessment. What’s more, Finch is a fairly orthodox batsman in terms of technique. The white ball batsmen who get chances are the ones who look a bit like the men already in the Test team.

Let’s take the example of Glenn Maxwell. He has a better Shield average than Finch and Travis Head, yet they are the ones to have been given chances in the Test side. Maxwell has a strong case to feel aggrieved with the way he’s been treated by the selection process, given that at times it feels as if his flair and invention in limited overs cricket distracts from his qualities in the red-ball form. His impressive average and his effectiveness as an attacking but substantial Shield batsman are ignored because he does not look like a first-class cricketer. On a day when an unorthodox cricketer devastated Australia’s middle order, the hosts’ reliance on more traditional performers, regardless of the soundness of their record, feels a little old-fashioned. As has been discussed on this site previously in greater detail, Australia’s reluctance to picking players at the extremes (Matthew Renshaw representing the opposite end of the spectrum to Maxwell, but still an atypical talent) is not serving their best interests, and will harm them going forward.

This may feel like two different discussions, but they really aren’t as distinct as they seem. The slower ball that Bumrah bowled today was a brilliantly executed skill, but a skill right out of the death overs of an ODI. That sort of inspiration and genius is valuable in all forms of the game, and India’s willingness to embrace Bumrah’s oddity and unorthodoxy, in order to benefit from those same traits, has taken them to the brink of victory in this Test and this series. Perhaps if Australia were more willing to do the same, we would be saying the reverse.

Ben Jones is an analyst at CricViz.

IPL PLAYERVIZ ANALYSIS – TEAM OF THE TOURNAMENT

As the IPL group phase nears completion, Patrick Noone takes a look at the players who have most positively affected their team’s chances of winning throughout the tournament.

Using CricViz’s PlayerViz statistics, it is possible to create a playing XI from the players with the highest impact scores. A player’s impact score provides a measure in runs of the impact that player’s performance has had on the match score. A player’s performance is measured against the average level of performance in that game and a positive or negative runs figure is produced to determine the extent that player has increased or decreased his team’s chances of winning. Scores are produced individually for batting, bowling and fielding, as well an aggregated overall figure that can be used to compare players by the same metric, regardless of their role in the team.

From the overall impact leaderboard, we are able to rearrange the top 11 players into a team as follows:

1. Quinton de Kock (Delhi Daredevils); Matches: 11, Runs: 383 (100s: 1, 50s: 2), SR: 144, Overall impact: +90 runs

The South African wicketkeeper has added consistency to his game to go with his obvious talent, with scores of 40+ in four consecutive innings before missing out against Rising Pune Supergiants. As he showed in his 108 against Royal Challengers Bangalore, he also has the ability to bat deep and convert those starts into more significant scores. de Kock’s preference to pick gaps in the field during the powerplay rather than go over the top have seen him hit 47 fours and just 12 sixes, with over 55% of all his runs coming in the first six overs.

IPL Fact: de Kock has been involved in five of Delhi’s 10 50+ partnerships this campaign.

2. David Warner (Sunrisers Hyderabad) Matches: 12, Runs: 567 (50s: 6) SR: 155.8, Overall impact: +187 runs

Warner tops our impact leaderboard thanks to a brilliantly consistent season at the top of the order for Sunrisers Hyderabad. With only three scores below 46, the skipper has relished his return to the opener’s spot after batting in Australia’s middle order at the ICC World T20. His side owe a lot to that consistency, with his 567 runs representing over 32% of the team’s total runs for the tournament, helping to overcome the stuttering form shown by their other top order batsmen.

IPL Fact: Warner is currently level with Ajinkya Rahane for the highest number of 50+ scores (6) without making a hundred.

3. AB de Villiers (Royal Challengers Bangalore) Matches: 12, Runs: 597 (100s: 1, 50s: 5), SR: 173.5, Overall impact: +145 runs

As Virat Kohli has taken most of the headlines in RCB’s star studded batting lineup, de Villiers had almost slipped under the radar for the first 10 games of this year’s IPL. That was until he hit 129 of his side’s 248 against Gujarat Lions to post the highest individual score of the season; and then followed it up with an unbeaten 31-ball 59 at Eden Gardens to help see off Kolkata Knight Riders. de Villiers’ record of batting with Kohli has been one of the stories of the IPL, with the pair putting on the top three partnerships of the tournament – the 229 in that game against Gujarat leading the way – and five century stands in total. De Villiers has also been electric in the field, taking 14 catches that represent a tournament high for non-wicketkeepers.

IPL Fact: de Villiers’ 129* against Gujarat Lions featured 112 runs from boundaries (10 fours, 12 sixes).

4. Aaron Finch (Gujarat Lions) Matches: 9, Runs: 313 (50s: 4), SR: 132.6, Overall impact: +92 runs

Three fifties in his first three innings at the top of the order for Aaron Finch hinted at a stellar tournament for the Australian, before an injury against RCB saw him lose his place to Dwayne Smith as Brendon McCullum’s opening partner. Since then, Finch has batted at three once and at five three times as the Lions have struggled for balance in their batting during the second half of the group phase. Nonetheless, Finch has still shown admirable resolve in his new role, most notably in match 34, when he made an unbeaten 51 against Sunrisers Hyderabad while his side stuttered to 126. Finch remains Gujarat’s top scorer with 313 runs and his strike rate is only bettered by McCullum and Smith, suggesting he will still have a big role to play for the new franchise in the knockout phase of the competition.

IPL Fact: Finch’s average of 52.2 is by far the highest of any Gujarat player in this year’s IPL. Dinesh Karthik is second with 29.8.

5. Shane Watson (Royal Challengers Bangalore) Matches: 12, Runs: 152, SR: 153.5, Wickets: 14, Economy: 8.5, Overall impact: +75.4 runs

Perhaps a surprise inclusion given his relatively quiet tournament with the bat – his high score is just 33 against Delhi Daredevils in match 11 – but Shane Watson has been a revelation for RCB with the ball. He leads his side’s wicket takers list with 14, picking up a wicket every 18.2 deliveries thanks to some canny changes of pace. Watson has only bowled 33 off-cutters in his 12 matches, but he has picked up 5-25 from those deliveries; the genuine variation proving enough of a surprise delivery to catch out batsmen on a regular basis.

IPL Fact: Watson is the only RCB bowler to have bowled three four-over spells with an economy of under seven runs per over.

6. Krunal Pandya (Mumbai Indians) Matches: 11, Runs: 233 (50s: 1), SR: 192.6, Wickets: 6, Economy: 7.1, Overall impact: +87.7 runs

The elder brother of India’s ICC World T20 squad member Hardik, Krunal Pandya has emerged as a genuine all-rounder for Mumbai Indians as they seek to defend their IPL title. Beginning the campaign primarily as a left-arm spin option to supplement Mumbai’s seam-heavy attack, Pandya has caught the eye with the bat in the middle order as the tournament has progressed. His unbeaten 49 from just 28 balls against Sunrisers Hyderabad in match 12 gave a glimpse of his potential before he repaid his side’s faith in sending him in at number three against Delhi Daredevils, blasting 86 from 37 balls to score his maiden IPL half century. Pandya’s versatility has afforded his side a flexibility that all T20 teams crave as he fulfils the coveted role of frontline bowler capable of batting in the top six.

IPL Fact: Krunal Pandya dismissed AB de Villiers in both matches between their respective sides.

7. Chris Morris (Delhi Daredevils) Matches: 11, Runs: 168 (50s: 1), SR: 184.6, Wickets: 12, Economy: 6.8, Overall impact: +80 runs

Another player who fits into the ‘genuine all-rounder’ category, Morris has lived up to his big price tag with his performances with both bat and ball during this campaign. A bowler of genuine pace – his speeds have consistently been around 85-88mph, with a tournament high of 89.2mph against Kings XI Punjab in match 36. A batting strike rate a fraction below 185 shows his prowess as a lower order hitter, with his undoubted highlight the 82* from 32 balls that saw him bring up the tournament’s fastest 50 (17 balls).

IPL Fact: Morris is ranked first and second in Delhi Daredevils’ leaderboards for batting average and bowling economy rate respectively.

8. Axar Patel (Kings XI Punjab) Matches: 12, Runs: 97, SR 149.2, Wickets: 11, Economy: 7.3, Overall impact: +81 runs

In another difficult season for Kings XI Punjab, Axar Patel has once again proved himself to be a consistent performer both as a canny left arm orthodox bowler and a reliable lower order batsman. He took career best figures of 4-21 against Gujarat Lions in game 28, a performance that included the only hat-trick of the tournament to date. Meanwhile his highlight with the bat came in a losing cause in Hyderabad against the Sunrisers as he smashed 36 off just 17 balls to propel his side to 143.

IPL Fact: Patel has hit more than twice as many sixes as fours in this competition (3 fours, 7 sixes).

9. Yuzvendra Chahal (Royal Challengers Bangalore) Matches: 9, Wickets: 12, Economy: 7.8, Overall impact: +66 runs

Chahal has become a key figure for RCB since his breakthrough IPL in 2014 and this year he is their second highest wicket taker behind Shane Watson, while in the tournament as a whole, Amit Mishra is the only spinner to have taken more wickets than RCB’s 25-year old legspinner. Chahal does not rely too heavily on variations – only three of his 12 wickets have come from googlies – preferring instead to beat the batsmen with subtle changes of pace and drift. Asked to bowl in the powerplay on five occasions this season, he is the highest ranked spinner on our bowling impact leaderboard in that part of the innings. He has only gone wicketless in one of his nine matches this campaign and is fast establishing himself as one of the leading young spin bowlers in the Indian game.

IPL Fact: No one has taken more wickets (3) through stumpings than Chahal in this tournament.

10. Jasprit Bumrah (Mumbai Indians) Matches: 13, Wickets: 14, Economy: 7.6, Overall impact: +87 runs

The young seamer is enjoying quite a year since he made his ODI debut at the SCG in January, going on to become a key part of India’s Asia Cup and World T20 sides. His ability to bowl yorkers has made him an excellent death bowler; in this tournament he has successfully landed 29 such deliveries, conceding just 27 runs. This, allied to his unusual action, has allowed Mumbai to play him in tandem with fellow seamers Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan as part of a varied attack that has taken 42 of the side’s 60 wickets.

IPL Fact: When Bumrah took 3-13 against Delhi Daredevils on 15th May, he became the first Mumbai seamer to bowl a four-over spell with an economy less than four since Lasith Malinga in 2014.

11. Mustafizur Rahman (Sunrisers Hyderabad) Matches: 12, Wickets: 14, Economy: 6.7, Overall impact: 104.79 runs

Bangladesh’s most recent star is taking his first IPL by storm, sitting fourth in the wicket taker’s list and playing a major role in what is arguably the best seam attack of the IPL. The off cutter has been Mustafizur’s most potent weapon – his ability to bowl at such a reduced pace with so little change in action has brought him plenty of reward; most notably against Kings XI Punjab on 23rd April when his 10 off-cutters produced two wickets, conceding no runs.

IPL Fact: Mustafizur is only the fifth Bangladeshi to feature in the IPL after Mohammad Ashraful, Mashrafe Mortaza, Abdur Razzak and Shakib Al-Hasan.

Where’s Kohli?
One notable omission from the CricViz XI is Virat Kohli. Despite scoring 752 runs at an average of 83.6, RCB’s captain sits in 14th place in our overall impact leaderboard, with a cumulative score of +51 runs. The reason for this incongruity is because the PlayerViz model that is used to generate these scores is resource-based, meaning that credit is not given to performances that are expected in the context of variables such as balls faced.

An example of this aspect of the model penalising Kohli can be seen in RCB’s match against Rising Pune Supergiants, when he scored 80 off 63 balls. Kohli’s batting impact score for this match was -16, despite his contribution to his side winning the game. This is because an opener facing just over half the balls available in the innings should be closer to a hundred than Kohli was. By contrast, in the same match AB de Villiers batted at three and scored 83 off 46 balls to finish with a batting impact score of +22 runs.