Minutes after Virat Kohli had skied a catch into a diving Kyle Jamieson's hands at third man, he disappeared into the nets located at the back of the Bay Oval. There he would stay for the next 40 minutes or so, focusing purely on getting bat to ball. He'd in fact not even take any of his gear off upon getting back to the dressing-room and only stopped to have a quick chat with two senior support staff members.
He'd just played one of the more untoward ODI innings of his career. It started with a bunch of plays and misses, where he kept poking his bat at deliveries outside his off-stump. That is before he jumped out to Tim Southee and uncharacteristically cross-batted a length delivery for six. Then came the innocuous poke of doom off Hamish Bennett. Cricket Betting Tips The Indian captain had come into the match having scored a single half-century in six white-ball innings on tour.
This was Kohli showing that even the best in the world can get anxious, if not desperate, for achieving the level of success that they're used to, even if it doesn't come their way for a very brief period of time. That even they can get too ahead of themselves and in a way end up taking the basics of what made them that successful for granted - which in his case was waiting for the ball to come to him rather than go chasing after it. And Kohli's mid-match stint in the nets was all about refocusing his mind towards what has always worked for him.
Much like Jasprit Bumrah's was in the same net in Mt Maunganui a day earlier.
Bumrah, like his captain, has had an unsatisfactory tour overall. And he'd not only gone wicketless in the first two ODIs but also lost his shape and his temper on a number of occasions. There were even some who believed that his best bet would be to get some time away and perhaps rest his body and mind during the third ODI at the Bay Oval. But instead, Bumrah decided to use the optional practice session on Monday (February 10) to focus on what he does best. He ran in and bowled fast, ensuring that the seam was coming out exactly the way he wanted it to, and he was hitting spots on the pitch exactly how he wanted to. It was just him wanting to feel good with ball in hand.
But Bumrah, unlike Kohli, is coming off a serious injury. Like any world-class bowler, it's only natural that he wants to get back to immediately being the force that he was before the uncalled-for sabbatical. It's therefore not surprising that he goes the extra yard in search of wickets rather than waiting for them to come to him, which is what has always worked for him. And in doing so, he too gets ahead of himself.
It's very easy to look at Bumrah and just assume that he's been around forever and that we should expect him to just shake off even a six-month hiatus without a fuss. And when he doesn't do so, just declare that it isn't the same Bumrah anymore. Even if this is officially his first-ever lengthy layoff due to injury. He is still only in his fourth year of international cricket.
If anything, he's looked like the same Bumrah, bowled at the same high speeds, got the seam coming out upright like he always does and even got the white ball to jag around as effectively as was the norm. Most importantly, his body has looked in absolutely no discomfort in executing these skills.
It's only that it hasn't reflected in the wickets column like it did before he broke down. What we've seen as a result is the youngster perhaps getting sucked into proving to nobody but himself that he is still the same Bumrah, even when it comes to being the man who always gives his team the wickets they need.
Bumrah's white-ball attributes have always been based mainly around not giving anything away. It's the new red ball that he hoops around corners, however, and with which he can often be unplayable - as the West Indians in particular found out when he last played regular cricket. The lack of consistent control from the other end during these ODIs in New Zealand, courtesy the inexperienced likes of Shardul Thakur and Navdeep Saini, has only made it tougher for Bumrah to stay immersed in his own task. He's had to literally play defence and attack for India with the white ball since he returned to 50-over cricket against Australia at home last month. It hasn't helped either that he has had to contend straight up with the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Martin Guptill, limited-overs openers who just don't allow any margin for error.
Bumrah hasn't looked at the least overawed, but has perhaps been overeager to overcome the challenge. But he wouldn't be the first world-class athlete to get blinded by a sense of desperation to fast-forward to the kind of results you've been accustomed to rather than having your eye on the ball, literally. It's this disharmony that has been the cause for the elementary mistakes in terms of Bumrah losing his line and length more often than we've ever seen before.
Wednesday's outing at the Bay Oval was perhaps Bumrah's best across the three ODIs, even if he didn't manage a wicket or really have any significant impact on the contest or the opposition. And he ended it with a wry smile after gently rolling the ball towards the stumps. It almost seemed like his way of pulling the plug on this chapter of the New Zealand visit. He almost seemed at peace with himself for the first time since landing here last month. Perhaps it's not taking wickets the way he's so used to doing that will eventually lead to him taking a lot them. A lull before the storm.