For years, Umesh Yadav watched his father go off every morning to load coal from the mines of the Western Coalfields Limited near Nagpur. The job paid enough, yet, as work related to mines is wont to be, it was a thankless, faceless job.
And not very safe. "It was both risky and dangerous," a shy Umesh told HT, soon after taking a quite unexpected five for 76 in his Duleep Trophy debut. "Entry to the place was restricted and my father ensured I never went in".
His father, Tilak Yadav, didn't just ensure that. Knowing well the risks of being a mine-worker, he decided that none of his three sons would have anything to do with the mines. He told them to study and he insisted they better their lives.
While his brothers went elsewhere Umesh dreamt of professional cricket. Yet, the 21-year-old, a second year BA student, also decided he would become a policeman. He was practical enough to believe that cricket was more or less a pipedream, so he restricted himself to tennis ball glory. That was, till a year and a half ago.
But the raw pace he generated had people sitting up and take note and on that basis, he got the opportunity to play A division cricket in Nagpur. The 20km commute to the city was not easy. Yet Umesh persevered, even attending the Vidarbha under-22 selection trials.
Two U-22 matches and seven wickets later, the 21-year-old right-arm pacer was drafted into the Ranji side. And he did well enough, picking 20 wickets in four games. The consistent pace got him a contract with Air India and later, a call up to the Central Zone squad.
That same pace in this game against South Zone, when he bowled at 141kmph on Thursday, had chairman of selectors K Srikkanth praising the youngster.