Ace pacer Jasprit Bumrah registered his name in the history books with an impeccable spell of fast bowling on Saturday to put India firmly in command of the second Test against West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica. Bumrah became only the third Indian to pick a Test hat-trick after Hanuma Vihari’s maiden ton, powering the visitors to a commanding position. In a lethal opening spell, Bumrah (6/16) rattled the West Indies by picking up the first five wickets, three of which came in successive balls in the ninth over. Former spinner Harbhajan Singh believes Bumrah will forever remain indebted to Virat Kohli’s “gut feeling”, which got him the hat-trick, just like he is grateful to Sadagopan Ramesh for an incredible catch at forward short-leg 18 summers ago.
Harbhajan, India’s first-ever hat-trick man in Test cricket, lauded Bumrah, who became only the third (Irfan Pathan was second) from the country to achieve the milestone in the longest format. In 2001, Harbhajan’s hat-trick against the mighty Australians (Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist and Shane Warne) set the tone for the series. On Saturday, Bumrah got Darren Bravo, Samarah Brooks and Roston Chase.
“This hat-trick belongs to Virat as much as it belongs to Bumrah. The bowler wasn’t convinced but the skipper had a gut feeling. What if Virat wouldn’t have gone for that DRS? It was a brilliant call by the skipper which complemented his magnificent effort,” Harbhajan was quoted by PTI on Sunday.
The Turbanator still feels that without Ramesh’s flash of brilliance, he wouldn’t have been able to create history. “I remember that I discussed with Dada (Sourav Ganguly) and we decided to keep it on stumps and try for a third leg before but Warne flicked it.
“Now to be honest, Ramesh wasn’t the most athletic of the guys in that team. Yet at forward short-leg, he pulled off that stunner with a less than split-second reaction time. Whenever I have later met Ramesh, I told him, ‘buddy my hat-trick belongs to you’,” Harbhajan fondly recollected.
“That’s why I believe that some things happen that come together and such a beautiful thing happens. It was Ramesh’s brilliance then and it’s Virat’s conviction now,” said the owner of 711 international wickets.
The most endearing thing, according to Harbhajan, was Rahul Dravid’s celebration. “I have never seen Rahul so excited, jumping with joy. Perhaps, he also didn’t believe Ramesh can pull off such a catch,” he said.
For Harbhajan, Bumrah is the biggest blessing that Indian cricket could have had. “Indian cricket is blessed to have a match-winner like Bumrah. This hat-trick will only help his legend grow but even without that he is an incredible performer. I mean 5 wickets in 7 overs in last game and 6 wickets in 9 overs in this game. You can’t ask for more. He is a rare diamond,” said Harbhajan.
What makes it more creditable is that the hat-trick has come in a Test match. “A hat-trick is always a praiseworthy feat but if it happens in Test cricket, it’s all the more creditable,” he felt.
“In ODIs, you are always in with a chance in the death overs — say from 47th to 50th when batsmen are attacking. If they attack you will always fancy your chances of a bowled or a catch in the deep,” he explained.
“But in Test matches, it is a different ball game. The batsmen are not always attacking. The defence will be tighter and their skill comes into play. Look at Bumrah’s deliveries. The length and how it was tailing in. That’s pure skills,” he said.
Harbhajan is not liking people raising questions about the quality of West Indies batting.
“Obviously Sir Viv (Vivian Richards) and (Brian) Lara won’t be playing on forever. They are playing their best Test team, the same outfit that beat England this year. And for Bumrah, he is the best fast bowler in world cricket at the moment,” Harbhajan concluded.