Bumrah described the pitch as a 'new-ball wicket' but was still on the money to exert control in his post-Lunch burst of three overs for 6 runs. AFP
Jasprit Bumrah was sent to fine leg after a deflating first spell in Test cricket at Newlands, where fans took the mickey out of the seemingly green debutant. It was a debut six months in the making, a move orchestrated by the erstwhile head coach Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli, though he walked in on the basis of his ODI credentials, and with no red-ball experience in the 12 months before his Test bow. The Cape Town pitch of 2018 came with demons, so Kohli arrived with an ace up his sleeve, or so he believed.

Kohli deemed Bumrah India's most impressive seamer in the preparations for the Test, but reality on that first day's play didn't even make it halfway through to meet the expectations. After Bhuvneshwar Kumar had stunned a packed Newlands to silence by wiping out the top-order in the first 20-odd minutes, Bumrah's seven overs helped them find their voice again. His erratic, inexperienced line and lengths - a heady mix of being too full, and short and wide - stoked the counterattacking fire started by AB de Villiers and Faf du Plessis in their quest for a quick recovery on an eventful morning. For Bumrah, it was a morning of errant lines, overcompensated lengths and, from beyond the boundary, some loud, unpleasant jibes.

This is no Cape Town-to-Cape Town redemption story. Bumrah, as it turns out, has far more to offer to his Test narrative. Three days after a forgettable start to his India career in whites, Bumrah made effective amends. He embraced hard lengths that the format demanded, and the world of difference that made was demonstrated in contrast to how Faf du Plessis dealt with him. The South African captain, who'd taken him apart in the midst of a fast recovery process on the first morning, got a ripper on the fifth stump line that snaked away and forced du Plessis to nick it for a five-ball duck. By the time India wrapped up their solo win of the series 20 days later in Johannesburg, he had a five-wicket haul.

Two days ago, when Virat Kohli recalled a nugget of advice from MS Dhoni about not repeating the same mistake for at least seven-eight months in order to cut it at the highest level, he was referring to Rishabh Pant's recent rut. But that very well could be the ideology that Bumrah has sworn by ever since he got his hands on the red ball in 2018.

Which brings us to the Johannesburg Test from a week ago, where he bowled 48 excruciating overs across the two innings to make just one addition to his wickets column. His jousts with Dean Elgar were still on a knife's edge like it has been through the series, but he somehow lacked the zip against most other batsmen until his latest adversary Marco Jansen entered the scene. KL Rahul still trusted him with long spells, but none of that bore the desired results. The needle with the young South African fast bowler while he batted coaxed a short-ball barrage from Bumrah, that was rather ineffective in the end.

By the time South Africa's fourth-innings chase began, majority of the top-order batsmen had Bumrah's measure as the Johannesburg conditions eased out greatly to push India's premier quick into having a rare off-day. The hopes of kindling a collapse were way off the mark, as evidenced by his eventual figures of 17-2-70-0 - only the second time in 51 Test innings he conceded runs in excess of four-an-over. Dean Elgar spoke of his pride at the comeback and hinted at having flustered the Indians with a show of aggression, hinting, not-so-subtly in Bumrah's direction who had a few exchanges of the verbal and cricketing kind with the 21-year-old Jansen.

Now cut to the second morning in Cape Town, where Bumrah stood atop his bowling crease once again having to compensate for a batting failure - a task which he and his esteemed bowling colleagues have had to pull off repeatedly in the last couple of years. The task was tricky but the instinct of being a quick learner had already kicked in on the previous evening, when he brought a swift end to the latest chapter of Bumrah-v-Elgar. So Aiden Markram, who comfortably drove away from his body against Bumrah last game and laid down the marker for the contest, was made to look a tad foolish for offering judgment to a length ball outside off that eventually found its way to knock back the bails.

You could gauge the pulse of that first hour based on how pensive Keegan Petersen looked, while the slip cordon behind constantly reminded him that he was one mistake away from exposing South Africa's batting order - even if it sounded a tad exaggerated. Mohammed Shami may have induced several edges, but Bumrah literally kept him on his toes, bowling short of good length to make the diminutive batsman - South Africa's best this innings - jump up and defend.

Bumrah himself would later describe the pitch as a 'new-ball wicket' but was still on the money to exert control in his post-Lunch burst of three overs for 6 runs. In the final session, another showdown with Jansen ensued, but this wasn't a testosterone-fuelled attempt at one-upmanship that he got dragged into in Jo'burg. Predictably, there were bouncers at the start, but Bumrah mixed it up, threw in a few bluffs, and eventually ended the contest with a cold hard stare after a seaming good-length ball squared up Jansen and took the top of off stump.

Bumrah's propensity to upskill on the go and quickly learn off his errant outings earned him his first Test fifer in 2018, and his seventh on Wednesday (January 12).