HYDERABAD : A Fiery pacer rushes in, clocks in 140s on the speed gun, and bowls two batsmen in identical fashion in two consecutive deliveries spread across two overs, sending thousands present at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium into a frenzy. The balls are pitched up, dart in just in time to kiss the inner edge of the bat, and then rattle the stumps.
A perfect spectacle for any speedster. With his latest performance, Umesh Yadav has ensured he can’t be simply confined to the bench overseas. His maiden 10-wicket match haul on Sunday — the third for an India pacer at home — ensured another crushing defeat for the hapless West Indies. Though Umesh has played only four Tests this year, the last two of them have been all that he has needed to create an impression. His bowling strike rate in 2018 (29.9) is the best among India bowlers who have claimed a minimum of 15 wickets in a calendar year.
With the Nagpur native running riot on a pitch that did not have much for pacers, the team management is now faced with a problem of plenty. India’s first-choice speedsters such as Jasprit Bumrah, Mohammed Shami and Ishant Sharma have performed consistently during their taxing English tour. Bumrah scalped 14 in three Tests, while Shami and Ishant dismissed 14 and 18 in the three and five matches. Umesh had turned up only in the first Test in the Old Blighty, claiming three wickets. Add Bhuvneshwar Kumar in the mix, India have a tough choice to choose three from these.
With Umesh now showcasing his potential in Hyderabad, skipper Virat Kohli believes that this overflow of good pacebowling options is a “good headache to have”. “Obviously, all four guys, when they are touching 140 and taking wickets, it is obviously something that any captain would like to have. You don’t want two guys not bowling well.
You obviously pick people in the team believing that they will perform well for you. It’s good to have all of our guys confident and raring to go.” Umesh’s plan of action while he’s out in the middle with the ball is simple: hit the deck hard and surprise batsmen. His record in Australia serves as a good reason for his inclusion in the playing XI for the tour Down Under.
The 30-year-old stands fourth in the list of highest wicket-takers in the last 10 years against Australia in their backyard (25 wickets in 7 matches). He’s also the only pacebowling name from India to figure in the top-10 of this list. In the current India speedster contingent, Shami comes in next with 15 wickets in the three Tests he was a part of during the 2014-15 tour. Ishant has 14 to his credit in 7 Tests. And Bumrah is yet to play Down Under.
According to Kohli, Umesh fits the bill for turning out in Australia. “Four Tests in Australia can be brutal, because the ball doesn’t do much, like England. So you have to run in all day and hit the right areas with pace. I think from that point of view, Umesh is right up there, because he has pace, fitness levels to run in all day, the ability to pick up wickets at crucial times, and good bounce.” Umesh’s recent exploits have definitely made this speedster race more intriguing. email@example.com