There is a purpose behind Umesh Yadav’s inclusion in the India team. It is to unsettle batsmen with pace and keep them on their toes by employing reverse swing. He has been performing the role well and provides breakthroughs to ease things for skipper Virat Kohli.
Umesh’s ascent began after the 2015 World Cup in Australia, where he picked 18 wickets by bouncing out the opposition. In Test cricket he may not have an impressive record (63 wickets in 23 Tests), but his improved control and ability to move the ball both ways have helped his cause. Not many India pacers can bowl fast, but Umesh consistently clocks over 145kmph to challenge the best batsmen in the world.
He made his Test debut in the home series against West Indies, but missed out two years between 2012 and 2014, which explains the few games he has played. But Umesh has combined pace with effectiveness since his return from back trouble.
“Umesh has worked a lot on his out-swing. That is helping him now. He has a beautiful action, run up that helps him generate pace. He has learnt to be more accurate and is picking crucial wickets upfront,” said former India pacer Madan Lal.
The subcontinent length
Last year in Sri Lanka, Umesh played two Tests and picked five wickets. At the P Sara Oval, he bent his back and got Angelo Mathews and Dimuth Karunaratne. The wicket was slow and the pacers were expected to mix up their bowling. But it was his three-quarter length that found Mathews’ edge.
Umesh got a better pitch at the Sinhalese Sports Club. Though it was Ishant Sharma who dominated the match with eight wickets, Umesh struck with the new ball, using the short stuff and the one that forces batsmen to be stuck in the crease.
Umesh’s improved accuracy with the new ball means batsmen have to play most of the deliveries.
Late in 2015, he picked five wickets at the Ferozeshah Kotla against South Africa in the final Test. In the first innings, he got Dean Elgar and JP Duminy on deliveries that moved off the track. Against New Zealand in Kanpur last month, Umesh trapped opener Martin Guptill with a similar delivery. At Indore, he trapped Tom Latham with a delivery bowled at 143kmph.
Umesh becomes more lethal with the old ball. His powerful shoulders and change of angle at the crease make it difficult for batsmen to judge the correct line of the delivery.
At Kotla last year, he picked up three in the second innings against South Africa, all of which curled in late.
His pitch map is scattered compared to Shami’s. The reason is the use of crease. It helped Umesh in Vizag against England. Johnny Bairstow and Ben Stokes had put up 110 for the sixth wicket before Umesh knocked Bairstow’s stumps with a reverse in-swinging delivery to bring India back in the game.
Umesh can bowl at the same speed through the day and it helps Kohli to exert pressure on the opposition. Even if the skipper has to go with two pacers, with Ishant and Bhuvneshwar now fit, Umesh will have the upper hand.