Al­most Bowled Them Over Yadav, Al­ways Giv­ing Back to the Game

Bowlers win the day for In­dia, but Mitchell Starc drags Aussies to 256/9 On a crack­led pitch tai­lor­made for spin­ners, he had the best fig­ures of the day

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Dileep Premachan­dran Anand Vasu

For over 100 min­utes on the first morn­ing of the BorderGavaska r T r ophy s er ie s , Aus­tralia were in dreamland. On a pitch Shane Warne de­scribed as “an eighth-day wicket”, Matt Ren­shaw and David Warner sur­vived a prob­ing new-ball spell from Ishant Sharma and the wily Ravi Ash­win. Then, Warner in­side-edged Umesh Yadav on to his stumps, Ren­shaw got ‘runs’ of an­other kind, and Aus­tralia un­rav­elled.

Hav­ing been 82 for 0, they limped to 205 for 9, be­fore an ex­hi­bi­tion of clean strik­ing from Mitchell Starc lifted them to 256 for 9 by stumps yes­ter­day. Al­most pre­dictably, Ash­win was the star, but there was ster­ling sup­port from Ravin­dra Jadeja and Umesh, who swept through the tail to earn the re­wards his bowl­ing had de­served all sea­son.

Each of the Aus­tralian top five faced at least 45 balls, but apart from Ren­shaw – who saw off 156 de­liv­er­ies in two in­stal­ments for his 68 – and Starc, not one crossed 40. It was an ob­ject les­son in how not to bat on the sub­con­ti­nent, promis­ing starts squan­dered by poorly cho­sen shots.

The rot set in be­fore tea. Steven Smith and Peter Hand­scomb are re­garded as the two most adept against the turn­ing ball, but it was the one that went straight on that ended a 30-run part­ner­ship be­tween the two. Jadeja had threat­ened Hand­scomb’s pads ear­lier as well. This time, he was caught on the crease, with the ball evad­ing the down­ward swing of the bat. Five balls later, Smith, who had nudged and clipped his way to 27 from 94 de­liv­er­ies, stepped out to Ash­win and could only on­drive straight into the hands of Vi­rat Kohli at mid­wicket.

Mitchell Marsh, who av­er­aged 23 with the bat in his 19 pre­vi­ous Tests, suc­cumbed to an­other straight Jadeja dart, this time strik­ing the bats­man plumb in front of off­s­tump. Through the car­nage, Ren­shaw – who had re­sumed on 36 not out – showed off a compact de­fence and some lovely strokes.

The in­nings plunged into fur­ther trou­ble when Matthew Wade was given out leg be­fore to Umesh, a mar­ginal call from Nigel Llong that the bats­man re­viewed with no suc­cess. But the real sucker punch came 17 balls later, as Ash­win in­duced Ren­shaw to play at one that turned across his body to take the edge through to M Vijay at slip. Af­ter that, it was the Umesh show. First, Steve O’Keefe was caught by Wrid­dhi­man Saha. That made it 205 for 8. The next ball, Nathan Lyon was pinged on the pad. Again, the Llong fin­ger went up. Again, the bats­man re­viewed. Fu­tilely.

With In­dia get­ting through the overs so quickly, there was enough time left in the day for Starc to clear his feet and launch each of the spin­ners for leg-side sixes, as the in­nings ended on a pos­i­tive note. He reached his half-cen­tury from just 47 balls – cross­ing 1,000 Test runs in the process – while dom­i­nat­ing a rapid 51-run stand with Josh Ha­zle­wood.

That had been the morn­ing theme as Warner and Ren­shaw slowly set­tled down. Ash­win gave them noth­ing to hit, but on the two oc­ca­sions he strayed down leg, Ren­shaw was alert enough to help the ball along to the fine-leg boundary. Warner faced just 19 balls in the first ten overs, but he too didn’t let scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties slip by. All was well un­til came on Umesh for the 28th over.. 1-82 1-82* 2-119 3-149 4-149 5-166 6-190 7-196 8-205 9-205 In­dian cricket has been be­sieged with all that is bad about how the game is ad­min­is­tered, tales of mis­man­age­ment and cor­rup­tion, back­han­ders and nepo­tism gath­er­ing such mo­men­tum that judges con­stantly be­rated the crick­et­ing pow­ers that be be­fore pass­ing stern judg­ment. But, at the re­cent In­dian Premier League auc­tion the other side of this beau­ti­ful game emerged.

To take only three ex­am­ples, there was Thangarsasu Natara­jan, the left-arm seam bowler from Chin­na­pam­patti near Salem in Tamil Nadu, who went from be­ing un­known to bag­ging a con­tract worth Rs 3 crore an­nu­ally. Natara­jan’s fa­ther worked as a porter and his mother sold snacks on the side of a high­way to make ends meet. Mo­ham­mad Si­raj, a rightarm fast bowler from Hy­der­abad, hated the fact that his fa­ther had spent nearly 30 years driv­ing an auto rick­shaw to sup­port his fam­ily. That pro­fes­sion was shelved once the Dec­can Charg­ers forked out Rs 2.3 crore for Si­raj. In three sea­sons Kar­nataka had not picked K Gowtham in their Ranji Tro­phy team, choos­ing in­stead to plump for Udit Pa­tel, whose fa­ther, coin­ci­den­tally was a pow­er­ful man in the state as­so­ci­a­tion. In his come­back sea­son Gowtham bagged wick­ets aplenty and the Rs 2 crore IPL pay­day that fol­lowed will go to­wards buy­ing a house for his par­ents.

In a coun­try where break­ing the cy­cle of poverty is of­ten im­pos­si­ble, cricket has had a gen­uinely trans­for­ma­tive ef­fect on the lives of many in­di­vid­u­als des­per­ately in need of a lucky break. And, on Thurs­day at the Ma­ha­ras­tra Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion Sta­dium, one such in­di­vid­ual, who changed the des­tiny of his fam­ily by hurl­ing a cricket ball at speed, paid rich div­i­dends for the faith cricket had in­vested in him.

For 27 overs, Umesh Yadav, picked as a new­ball bowler, bided his time in the out­field as Vi­rat Kohli chose to press for­ward with spin on a pitch that Ravi Shas­tri thought might be in need of a der­ma­tol­o­gist rather than a cu­ra­tor. Off his sec­ond ball, Yadav struck, a good length ball on a de­cent line invit­ing the shot from David Warner and the pace caus­ing the bats­man to be just late enough to in­side edge onto the stumps. It wasn’t the most pierc­ing de­liv­ery Yadav had ever bowled, but it broke an 82-run open­ing part­ner­ship.

Yadav is used to com­ing to the party late and mak­ing it count. Grow­ing up in Valli, a set­tle­ment of ap­prox­i­mately 5,000 peo­ple near Kha­parkheda, a min­ing re­gion close to In­dia’s geo­graph­i­cal dead cen­tre, Nagpur, Yadav had not bowled with a leather ball till he was out of his teens. Since Yadav’s fa­ther did not want his sons to fol­low him down the shafts to the rel­a­tively prim­i­tive mines he worked in, the young­ster tried to join the po­lice, but just missed the cut. This was cricket’s great­est bless­ing. From fool­ing around with ten­nis balls as a 19-yearold, Yadav was play­ing for In­dia at 22.

If the trans­for­ma­tion off the field was a dra­matic one, the me­ta­mor­pho­sis from raw tear­away who landed too few balls in the right ar­eas to a po­tent force ca­pa­ble of chan­nelling the dark art of re­verse swing was more som­no­lent. But, in the seven years since he made his de­but, Yadav’s bowl­ing mind has un­der­gone sev­eral awak­en­ings. Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni used Yadav de­fen­sively, hav­ing him bowl wide of the stumps, dry­ing up the runs and forc­ing bats­men into a drowsy stu­por that cost them their wick­ets. Since Kohli has taken the reins, how­ever, Yadav has been de­ployed as a spear, in the ab­sence of a true spear­head in an at­tack that the cap­tain changes for vir­tu­ally ev­ery Test.

In the 76th over the day, Yadav was strong enough to send down a 140kmh de­liv­ery that sent Matthew Wade on his way, ball hit­ting pad be­fore the bat could come down. In the 82nd over, Yadav was still pow­er­ing through, Steve O’ Keefe nick­ing for Wrid­dhi­man Saha to take a screamer and Nathan Lyon fell first ball a seam­ing de­liv­ery com­ing in at pace to trap him in front.

On a crack­led pitch that was meant to be tai­lor­made for spin­ners, Yadav had 4 for 32, the best fig­ures of the day. How’s that for giv­ing back to the game that has changed your life for­ever?

Matt Ren­shaw and David Warner sur­vived a prob­ing new-ball spell, but the lat­ter’s wicket changed the game Yadav is used to com­ing to the party late – he had not bowled with a leather ball till af­ter his teens

David Warner is bowled by Umesh Yadav. His wicket started the slide for the Aus­tralians AP

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