The Hindu (Mumbai)

Patience, perseveran­ce and pace — the Umesh Yadav formula for success

After going down the national side’s pecking order following an underpar outing in the WTC final against Australia, he has bounced back in the domestic circuit

- Abhishek Saini

The effort with which Umesh Yadav plied endlessly for a greater part of his Test career, hitting the deck and grunting on release, on tracks that left the likes of R. Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja rubbing their hands, remains.

Among the fabled battery of fast bowlers, which was India’s selfdiscov­ery of its pace trove under Virat Kohli, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami made the ball talk at will, Ishant Sharma had his freakishly­high release point to exploit blended with reverseswi­ng, and Bhuvneshwa­r Kumar broke the batter down with his unerring consistenc­y and natural swing.

Umesh could swing the ball away from the righthande­r and wielded a bit of reverse swing too, but was not nearly as menacing as the names above. All he had to call for inclusion into the coveted club was effort. That was enough.

“You cannot escape that. You can be called in to bowl 20 overs in a day, at times even more if you are bowling well. So, the more you bowl, your body gets more used to it,” Umesh says.

He emerged from Vidarbha with the promise of being one of India’s quickest quicks, yet the trials of internatio­nal cricket made for a rough entry onto the big stage. While his Test debut against the West Indies at home was largely impressive, India really turned to him for the Australian tour of 2011/12. With a panache for searing backofalen­gth deliveries spitting onto the batter, Umesh was tailormade for conditions down under.

In four matches in the series, Umesh scalped 14 wickets at an average of nearly 40. The record does not look brighter through his later tours of Australia. In 10 Tests overall, Umesh picked up 31 wickets at 44.22. Through his 57match Test career, Umesh has played just one match in South Africa. Bizarre for a talent poised to be India’s fastest.

Yet for the same bowler, to come back and average 25.22 on home soil, conditions where the tweakers rule the roost, warrants a scratch of the head at first. On deeper inspection, it is a testament to Umesh’s ability to wait for his turn, remould, and work in tandem with his partners.

“You know if the bowler from one end is not giving runs, the one from the other end is well placed to pounce on that. You have to stick to bowling well together to create those chances. It’s just like a batting partnershi­p.

“I am happy that if not me, my teammate is getting wickets. As a team, that is more important. At times, it will be the spinners, and at times the pacers. All you can do is stick to the length and keep the batters under pressure,” Umesh says.

Somewhere between persisting with hard lengths, tirelessly banging the ball into the surface, and learning to hold one end, Umesh carved a niche in India’s pace unit. While it may not have elevated him to posterboy status, a luxury wellearned by a Bumrah or a Shami, Umesh quietly helped himself to a career haul of 170 odd wickets.

As he goes through another trough in his career, Umesh is back where it all started for him, Vidarbha, falling back on the same effort that held him for long.

Umesh has not been in the scheme of things following a poor outing in the World Test Championsh­ip final against Australia last year. Chosen over Ashwin in the favourable England conditions,

Umesh returned just two wickets in the match.

But his 27 wickets in seven games in the Ranji Trophy this season have been a case worth at least a pondering if not a nod. “See I can not say when or how I will come back. That is purely up to the management and the selectors in terms of what they’re looking for and what they expect from which player. It depends on them,” Umesh says. At 36, sticking to convention might call for the doors to be closed on a fast bowler. Umesh stimulates a second considerat­ion even here. In the semifinal against Madhya Pradesh, Umesh bowled extended spells lasting as many as eight overs.

“What clicks for me, is my body. I know the more I bowl, the fitter I will stay. My body is fit, I played seven games this season, it’s for everyone to see. I definitely feel I have the ability,” Umesh says.

Casting an influence with his trademark hitthedeck deliveries, Umesh has been a central piece as Vidarbha sits one step away from its third Ranji Trophy crown.

“Our batting and bowling units have stepped up when needed. We’re clicking as a unit. The confidence and morale are quite high in our camp heading into the final. So, we are 100 percent sure we will do well,” Umesh says.

The few who attended the semifinal at the VCA Stadium in Nagpur were loud enough with their chants of “Umesh, Umesh”. For once, the local boy used to slipping under the radar was brought front and centre, and for good measure.

DUmesh, who was preferred to Ashwin in favourable conditions in England, took just two wickets in the WTC final against Australia

DDIn the semifinal against Madhya Pradesh, he bowled extended spells lasting as many as eight overs

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? The speedster has turned it around in this year’s Ranji, scalping 27 wickets and guiding Vidarbha to the final
GETTY IMAGES The speedster has turned it around in this year’s Ranji, scalping 27 wickets and guiding Vidarbha to the final

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