During the first Test between India and South Africa at Centurion, a much-anticipated Boxing Day affair, Indian pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah will be wearing the whites for the first time in around one and the half years. The first Test of the two-match series will be starting from Tuesday at Centurion. Bumrah, who last played a Test for India against England at Birmingham in July last year as a captain, will be playing his first Test in a long while after struggling with injuries that kept him out for much of this year.
With 128 wickets in 30 Tests with the best bowling figures of 6/27, Bumrah has a reputation and numbers by his side. In just six Tests in South Africa, Bumrah has taken 26 wickets at an average of 24.38, with the best figures of 5/42.
Besides these great overall numbers, this pacer also has great numbers in ‘Boxing Day’ Tests played in Australia and South Africa. India has never lost a Test match with Bumrah throwing down his rocket-like deliveries on the pitch. India has played three Boxing Day matches with Bumrah in their squad, two against Australia in Australia and one against Proteas in Centurion. India has won all of these matches.
In his first-ever Boxing Day outing against Australia back in December 2018, Bumrah ripped through an Australian batting line-up already struggling without Steve Smith and David Warner, who were completing their bans faced due to a ball-tampering scandal that year.
After India made 443/7 in the first innings, Bumrah’s 6/33 which included wickets of Aaron Finch, Shaun Marsh and Travis Head bundled out Australia for 151, giving India a 292-run lead in the first innings. Later when India came to defend 399 runs, Bumrah took 3/53, helping India bundle out Australia for 261, giving them a 137 run win.
Bumrah got the ‘Player of the Match’.
The pacer’s next Boxing Day Test was the second Test against Australia, which had come after India was bundled out for just 36 at Adelaide and faced an embarrassing loss. In this Test, Bumrah bowled with vengeance in his mind, removing Joe Burns, Travis Head, Mitchell Starc and Nathan Lyon to get figures of 4/56, bundling out Aussies for 195 in the first innings.
Posting 326 in the first innings, India gained a 131 run lead and allowed Australia to take a slender 69-run second innings lead. Australia was all out for 200, with Bumrah (2/54) removing Steve Smith and Pat Cummins. India won that match by eight wickets to turn the tables in what would turn out to be one of the greatest bilateral cricket events ever.
Bumrah played his first Boxing Day Test in South African territory next year. After India made 327 in first innings thanks to a superb century by KL Rahul, Bumrah took 2/16, removing skipper Dean Elgar and Keshav Maharaj to give India a 130-run lead. India gained a 304-run second-innings lead by scoring 174 in their second innings. In defence of 305 runs, another Bumrah special followed as he removed Maharaj and Rassie Van Der Dussen and got the crucial wicket of Elgar to finish with 3/50, bundling out SA for 191 and winning the game by 113 runs.
Overall in three Boxing Day Tests, Bumrah has taken 20 wickets with the best figures of 6/33.
Bumrah will be a lethal weapon in India’s pace armoury and it would be important that he shines if India has any chance of taking a 1-0 series lead.
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