Jasprit Bumrah is not just a difficult proposition for rival batsmen, he’s also tough to face for team-mates in the nets. KL Rahul, who has been Bumrah’s team-mate across formats, said the pacer was someone “you don’t want to mess with” because he was as competitive away from competition as he is when in it.
“He’s a phenomenal talent and I had the opportunity and privilege to play with him even before he had the chance to play for his country,” Rahul said, speaking at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. “We played on the same junior level team and he’s always someone that’s very determined and dedicated and very passionate about cricket.
“He’s someone you don’t want to mess with because he bowls the ball at serious speeds and he’s a competitor off the field even when we’re playing against each other. There’s no mercy, even for the guys who play for the same country – he’s always very competitive. The things that he’s doing for the country right now are absolutely fantastic and I know he’s only going to grow and get better.”
Among other bowlers Rahul has faced at the international level, he singled out Pat Cummins, Rashid Khan and Nathan Lyon as those who had troubled him the most. “Pat Cummins, who is the No. 1 Test bowler right now. I found him very hard to face. Rashid Khan has always got the edge over me – he has my number a little bit. Nathan Lyon from Australia. All these guys, and Bumrah of course.”
“The manager kept checking for scores and we kept following ball-by-ball. What he did was unbelievable. It will always remain the best Test match that was ever played”
KL Rahul on Ben Stokes’ heroics at Headingley
Bumrah has been ruled out of India’s ongoing Test series against South Africa with a stress fracture, while Rahul has found himself out of favour after below-par returns at the top of the order in Test cricket. He is currently playing for Karnataka in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, India’s domestic 50-overs competition, and has been in good form, with scores of 29, 131, 4 and 81 in the first four games. He still remains part of India’s white-ball squads, and has had a particularly successful time in the Indian Premier League.
As for players from beyond India’s shores, there’s Ben Stokes, who the Indian batsman would dearly love to have in his corner should the occasion present itself.
“He can bowl, he’s a phenomenal fielder, he’s played out there before and he’s had a great impact on the teams he’s played for,” Rahul said. “I hope he can play for my team, it’d be great to have him on my side!”
Rahul revealed that the Indian team had kept track of Stokes’ match-winning 135 in a thrilling one-wicket win in the third Ashes Test – even though they were themselves playing a Test in the West Indies at the same time.
“It’s funny because we were playing a Test match, too, in Antigua,” Rahul said. “But we were following the scores on the manager’s phone, as we’re not really allowed to use phones during the game. The manager kept checking for scores and we kept following ball-by-ball. What he did was unbelievable. It will always remain the best Test match that was ever played. To play an innings like that is incredible. He’s a phenomenal player and phenomenal athlete – you can watch that match over and over again.”