In the record books, Jasprit Bumrah’s figures of 2/27 at the Oval will look unremarkable. In reality, his performance was one of the most eye-catching of a series that has not been short of standout displays.
On a pitch that was offering little to the seamers in terms of movement, the match looked destined for a draw as England reached lunch on the final day at 131/2, with Haseeb Hameed well set on 62 and the series’ outstanding batter Joe Root looking comfortable.
To that point India’s attack had bowled with discipline, turning the screws and asking the right questions only to be met with the correct answers by a determined England top order. Shardul Thakur had provided an early breakthrough when he struck in the eighth over of the day to remove Rory Burns but there was little encouragement for the tourists in the first session, with the run out of Dawid Malan a surprise bonus.
At the same time, just 54 runs came for England in the first session leaving their hopes of victory close to extinguished – 237 runs from the final two sessions was always going to prove difficult -and India had an ace up their sleeve.
“Well it is quite relative what you call flat,” Virat Kohli said of the pitch at the post-match presentation.
“The last two days conditions have been really hot so the field wasn’t that wet like the first three days and we knew we were in with an opportunity with Jadeja bowling from one end into the rough, the ball got scuffed up quite nicely. We managed to make one side heavier and our guys when the ball is reversing enough they become much more lethal and we exploited reverse swing perfectly today.
“We were actually looking forward to the opportunity of bowling with the old ball and we looked at that as a positive rather than thinking 'nothing is happening from the pitch what are we going to do here?'”
With the match in the balance and hints of reverse swing, Bumrah asked for the responsibility of putting the Test firmly in India’s favour.
The pace spearhead had looked India’s most threatening bowler to that point in the match, leaking just 14 runs from his 11 overs so far, with five maidens to his name. On the sixth delivery of his post-lunch spell there was the first hint he was going to be even more difficult for England to play - the ball beating Hameed’s outside edge, swinging ever so slightly in the direction of the shiny side.
Hameed fell in the next over to Jadeja, opening the door for India. In the third and fourth overs of his spell, Bumrah blew that door off its hinges.
Having steadily built the pressure on Ollie Pope, he made a mess of his stumps, castling him with an inswinger that was simply too hot to handle. It wasn’t the trademark yorker that has served him so well, but it was still a fitting way for him to bring up his 100th Test wicket in just his 24th Test – the fewest matches for an Indian quick to reach the milestone.
In his next over, the yorker did come out – an inswinging rocket that took the pitch out of the equation and one Jonny Bairstow could do nothing about as he was bowled for a duck.
Things got worse for England in the following over as Jadeja struck again to remove Moeen Ali for a duck. From 141/2, the hosts had slipped to 147/6.
The situation would have deteriorated even further if anyone other than Root had to face the final two overs of Bumrah’s spell. Only a man in the form of his life could have denied Bumrah’s next yorker and even then it was only just, with the toe end of Root’s bat jamming down in the nick of time to keep out the heat-seeker. Bumrah finished his spell with one more of those yorkers and again Root needed the toe end of his bat to protect his toes and his stumps.
His figures for the spell read an impressive 6-2-6-2, indicative of the pressure he had built and the blows he had struck. Its match-turning status was agreed upon by both captains.
“As soon as the ball started reversing a bit Jasprit just said ‘just give me the ball’ and he bowled that six-over spell and got us two breakthroughs which completely shifted the momentum to our side and from thereon we knew any more mistakes from England and we’ll be all over this game,” Kohli said.
"Credit to India, they got the ball to reverse and they really made good use of that,” Root said. “It was a brilliant spell of bowling from Bumrah and that really was the turning point in the game.
"I think you've always got to find ways of getting better and managing different periods of play - absolutely - but at the same time you've got to be realistic about things and understand that was world-class bowling.
"He saw an opportunity in the game and performed extremely well. Sometimes you've got to find a way of managing through that period. There's a chance there might be some reverse swing at Old Trafford - we'll have to make sure we manage it better if we come across a similar situation."
England went on to be bowled out for 210, with Thakur picking up his second wicket when he had Root chop on and Umesh Yadav finished things off from there as he collected three wickets.
Having conceded a 99-run first-innings lead it was yet another memorable come from behind victory for India. With belief sky-high, they will now look to secure their first Test series win in England since 2007 when the two teams meet in the final match starting Friday.
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