HYDERABAD: It was deja vu in a bad sense for Umesh Yadav late on Sunday night in Vizag. Called upon to defend 14 runs in the last over against Australia in the first T20, he conceded two boundaries to lower-order batsmen Pat Cummins and Jhye Richardson to hand the visitors a thrilling victory in the opening match of the tour. All this on a pitch that had hardly looked conducive for big-hitting.
As soon as the match ended, social media exploded with harsh criticism directed towards the pacer, which also included a wave of memes ridiculing him. An immaculate bowling display by pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah in the penultimate over — the 25-year-old scalped two batsmen while giving away just two runs — which suddenly put India in the driver’s seat, only fuelled the fire. The two overs were in total contrast.
Hurling yorkers consistently is one way of dealing with such situations, feels former India pacer L Balaji.
“In death overs, there is no guarantee that your plan will be successful. The game could have gone either way. People should not be so harsh on bowlers who operate during these overs. You need to bowl yorkers consistently, something Bumrah has done quite frequently. On the whole, it was a good bowling effort from India. Despite having so few to defend, they took it to the last delivery,” Balaji said.
There are voices saying that Yadav does not deserve a place in the limited-over squads. However, Balaji believes the Nagpur bowler is the best option when it comes to the fourth pacer in the World Cup squad. “After Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohammad Shami, he is the best suited to occupy a seat. Who else is there? Khaleel Ahmed has done well, but Umesh has more experience, which will count in a tournament like the World Cup.”
Asked to elaborate, Balaji said, “One-dayers are similar to Tests in the sense that a pacer needs to have the skills to utilise both the new and old ball. Umesh has been doing that consistently in Tests over the years. It would not be an issue for him to adjust to ODI cricket. He has done well in IPL as well. In my opinion, there is no one else when it comes to the fourth speedster in the World Cup squad. He is the only one. T20I performances should not be considered as yardstick for selection in ODIs. That is a totally different ball game.”
Last October, Umesh was in a similar situation at the same venue, with the West Indies needing 14 in the last over. Like on Sunday, he had conceded two fours, and Jason Holder’s men had pulled off a tie.
Defending his senior partner, Bumrah, who finished with 3/16, said it is always a 50-50 scenario towards the end. “It works both ways in death overs. It is always a 50-50 situation. You try your best, and you’re clear in your execution. Some days it works, some days it doesn’t. There is nothing to be worried about. Yes, we wanted to close the game in our favour, but it’s okay because death bowling is difficult in any situation,” Bumrah said.
In a chat with bcci.tv, Bumrah revealed that he predominantly used back-of-a-length deliveries, and a yorker on the last ball, to strangle the opposition on a sluggish wicket. “We had bowled a lot of length balls. Then we wanted to back my yorker, which I always do. Trying to execute that, and on the given day it was a good execution. So it was a good day in the field. I was very clear on the execution, which I wanted to do. Very happy to be back,” the numero uno ODI bowler said.
Whether Yadav makes it into the World Cup squad only time will tell, but an economy of 6.01 in 75 ODIs does not augur well for him.
Bumrah defends Umesh
Jasprit Bumrah defended his under-fire colleague Umesh Yadav for not being able to defend 14 runs in the final over of the T20 against Australia, calling it a one-off day when his execution at the death went haywire. “This happens, death bowling is always difficult in any situation. It always goes both ways and it’s sometimes 50-50,” Bumrah said at the post-match news conference.