Jasprit Bumrah's steep rise in international cricket across formats has been marked by the speed, versatility and nous, but he showed in India's Test series sweep in West Indies that he still had room to add more weapons to his bowling, unveiling the outswinger. Virat Kohli's "complete bowler" said it was a delivery he had, but needed honing to unleash in a match.
"I have always had the outswingers, I have not used it much," Bumrah said at an event in Mumbai on Friday. "But playing in England gave me a lot of confidence with the Dukes ball swinging for a long period of time. I got more and more confident as I played more and more Test cricket."
"In white ball cricket, the ball doesn't swing for a long period so you have to assess what kind of delivery works every time," he said. "I was working on it [the outswinger] for a long period. I used it in England as well when we were playing against county teams. You can't use everything in one match. You just try to assess the conditions on the given day and see what could work."
Bumrah started off being looked at as white-ball specialist, but in the years leading up to his Test debut and after, he always maintained that doing well in the longest format was one of his most cherished goals, which is reflected in the moment he picked as the 'most memorable' one of his career.
"Getting my first Test fifer, which I got in Johannesburg. Playing in my first [Test] series, when I got the fifth wicket, that was the moment - 'now I've got a Test fifer, nobody can take it away from me'.
"As a domestic player, I have played a lot of Ranji Trophy cricket, so you always wanted to make a mark in Test cricket. I always had the belief that if I have done well in first-class cricket, I can replicate that in Tests as well. I have played only 12 matches, but finally after I made my debut after playing for two years of international cricket in South Africa, it was a good experience, a dream come true. I was really happy, just being there and playing in a white jersey was a great feeling. And then slowly, slowly starting to contribute towards the team's success gave me a lot of satisfaction.
"I just didn't want to be a cricketer who played one-day and T20," he said. "So the journey has been good. It's just started, hopefully a long way to go. I'm learning from the experience that I've gained by playing in South Africa, England, Australia and the West Indies. India will be a different challenge, which I'm looking forward to."
One of the things Bumrah stresses on is self-belief.
"For me, even if things don't go well, the only opinion that matters, in my opinion, is your [own] opinion. It doesn't matter what others think of you. That's the philosophy I follow," he said. "Whatever people think, whatever everybody's opinion is, that is not important. If they give you love, that's good. If they don't, that's good. Ultimately, it's what's inside your head, you're there, you should have that belief. If you have the belief, everything will fall in place."
So far, all of Bumrah's Test appearances have been overseas, away from the subcontinent: four in Australia, three each in South Africa and England, and two in the Caribbean. He has picked up five-fors in each of those countries, becoming the quickest (in terms of number of Tests) to record five-wicket hauls in four different countries. Now, he is set to play a Test in India for the first time in the series against South Africa, with three Tests scheduled in Visakhapatnam, Pune and Ranchi, which will form a new challenge.
"I have played all my life in Ranji Trophy cricket in India. These are not alien conditions for me," Bumrah said. "For me, a lot of preparation goes in before any match or tournament. I assess the conditions, we will discuss with the team management and the senior players, who have played a lot of cricket over here, as to what works, what doesn't work, so will take everything into consideration and see how it goes.
"All these things I listen to, and filter them, and figure out what I can do and cannot. I try to asses all this and make my plans."
That mindset, and the self-belief, also helps Bumrah 'stay calm' when things don't go his way on the field. "If you get angry and show unnecessary emotion, it doesn't really help. It's a waste of energy. During that time, I like to stay calm, I try to smile, then I tell myself, 'see, you are playing international cricket, you are playing at the highest level, which you always wanted to do as a child, so why are you getting frustrated'," he said.
"So few people in the world get such an opportunity. At that moment I feel grateful, I feel happy that I am playing at this level, small frustrations here and there will happen, but just be happy with the opportunity."