On India comeback, Umesh shows Saffers how to bowl

Indian Express

Indian Express

Author 2019-10-12 02:42:48

Indian Express 12 Oct 2019 00:12 AM

When Yadav replaced Hanuma Vihari, who is highly rated for his guts and team spirit by the likes of Ravi Shastri, there was a murmur of disapproval in certain quarters.

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It was an extremely “frustrated” Umesh Yadav who turned up to meet Pritam Gandhe, former Vidarbha captain and a junior selector in the past, after the World Cup snub earlier this year. The pair has known each other for long but if he expected some placebo, Yadav was in for a shock.

“I told him, ‘you can’t have Bajrang Bali (Hanuman) fielding for you. You can’t bowl four good balls and then one down the leg for four.’ The whole pressure on him (batsman) comes down because of the fact there is no consistency in his lines. He needed to understand this. I just advised him to bowl at the stumps,” Gandhe recalled the conversation for The Indian Express.

It was this advice that slam-dunked the tired South Africans late on the second day. Spare a thought for openers Dean Elgar and Aiden Makram. In the field for nearly two days, they were suddenly pressed into an unenviable task in the last half hour, and were stung by Yadav’s accuracy and pace.

The South African seamers, too, could take a leaf out of Yadav’s ‘bowl at the stumps’ tactic in Indian conditions as it proved to be simple and deadly. Makram couldn’t drag himself forward and was trapped by a pacy in-dipper and Elgar was too late in withdrawing his bat and inside-edged onto his stumps.

When Yadav replaced Hanuma Vihari, who is highly rated for his guts and team spirit by the likes of Ravi Shastri, there was a murmur of disapproval in certain quarters. Were three seamers needed for this Indian track – such questions have always tailed Yadav through his career. Here is a man who took a 10-wicket haul in his last Test in India, against West Indies, and in some ways, is perfect for these conditions when he gets his act together. But that was the criticism against him: could he consistently get his act together?

Hostile spell

In a brief but hostile spell, Yadav showed why he should be in the Test squad. Even if Jasprit Bumrah is fit. On current form, the battle for the third seamer’s slot should be between Ishant Sharma and Yadav.

As a digression, this is surely the golden age of Indian pace bowling as we can’t forget that Bhuvneshwar Kumar too is hovering around for a spot in the squad.

Gandhe remembers how disappointed Yadav was after the World Cup rejection. “He was frustrated as he was picked and dropped easily. He was the first seamer to be dropped, mostly. He was hoping for a long run after his 10-wicket haul but he was dropped soon. But I realised that there was no use blaming the selectors. He had to make sure that he did everything possible to make it difficult for them to do so. Get more consistent in his lines.”

It wasn’t just Gandhe who felt this way. Yadav also spoke to former India pacer Subroto Banerjee, who too had the same advice. Yadav also had a chat with former India pacer Ashish Nehra, who shared his own mistakes from his career. During an interaction with The Indian Express earlier this year, Yadav recalled what Nehra had told him. “When we didn’t get our chance, we at times were reluctant to train and when we got matches, we were not as focused as we should have been, so don’t let that happen.”

Abundance of patience

In January this year, Yadav was asked to give a pep talk to a group of Uttarakhand pacers on the sidelines of a Ranji Trophy game. He stressed on the importance of having proper bowling plans and remaining patient to be successful.

Patience is an easy word to throw at others but an extremely difficult trait to display in troubled times. Which Yadav was in as the year wore on. He was out of the Test team, not considered for ODIs, and was never a serious T20 proposition. Then the likes of Bumrah and Shami stepped up remarkably well and Yadav would have begun to wonder about the direction his career was taking. Here is where Gandhe’s blunt words proved a trigger for positive change.

On Friday, Yadav ensured he didn’t need Bajrang Bali to field for him, and also produced his best: at the stumps, fast, and with a hint of movement. Now he has to follow it up with more consistent good work in the remainder of the match. His immediate future would depend on how well he does.

He has the skill to reverse swing the old ball, is fitter than most and India would love to have the best version of Yadav at their disposal.

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