Bharat Arun reveals Virat Kohli's unheard-of role in Jasprit Bumrah's Test debut
India's renowned former bowling coach Bharat Arun has revealed the Virat Kohli hand behind ace speedster Jasprit Bumrah's memorable Test debut at the start of the 2018 tour of South Africa.
Arun reminisced how the legendary batter was amazed by Bumrah's pace and hostility and encouraged the then head coach Ravi Shastri to include him in the team.
It was during a centre wicket training session in Cape Town where Virat Kohli happened to face a sustained spell from Bumrah and as he returned to the shed, Arun said, the Indian captain told coach Shastri he is being "fraction of a second late" against this bowler, unlike the rest.
That moment further convinced Shastri about Bumrah, having been one of the individuals who identified the Gujarat seamer for the Test assignment in the rainbow nation. India had included the unorthodox seamer into their Test match plans as early as the 2017 home series versus Sri Lanka but chose to reserve the pacer for their overseas realms.
How Kohli got Bumrah making Cape Town Test debut
Speaking on Cricbuzz's 'Rise of New India' Episode 1 featuring Jasprit Bumrah, Arun remembered Virat Kohli's honest confession to have faced troubles batting against the pacer during that centre-wicket training session and instantly encouraging Shastri to put him in the playing XI for the first Test.
"We went about 10 days early to South Africa and had centre wicket practice, where Virat was so impressed with Bumrah, I still vividly remember Virat after playing him came to Ravi and said: 'Ravi bhai, sabse mushkil hai isko khelna (the most difficult bowler to face is him)," Arun said.
"'Mujhe pata nahi lag raha hai woh kab ball release kar raha hai (I am not able to gauge when he is actually releasing the ball) and I am fraction later than the other bowlers'."
"Then we (Ravi and Arun) took a closer look and said we will definitely go with Bumrah because he was so quick."
A nod from the management uplifted young Bumrah, who was still not three years into playing white-ball cricket for India but was about to face the South Africans in a crucial Test match of the three-game series.
After initial stutters and nerves that saw the pacer overpitch the ball consistently in the first half, where he went for 1/73 off his 19 overs, Bumrah came roaring back in the second essay and vindicated the faith shown by the team management and selectors, bagging figures of 3/39.
The rest is history, as they say. Bumrah today stands as one of the world's premier fast bowlers across formats, with an astonishing Test match record under his belt. The pacer averages an eye-catching 21.99 for his 128 Test wickets taken in only 30 matches, including eight five-wicket hauls and the best of 6/27.