India v Australia, 3rd Test, Ranchi, 2nd day March 17, 2017

Long run in Tests gives Umesh results


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'Now know my strengths, look to focus on them' - Umesh

Through the course of the 2016-17 home season, Umesh Yadav has played more matches and bowled more overs than any other Indian fast bowler. His efforts, though, haven't always translated into wickets: before the start of the series against Australia, Umesh's average for the season was 54.23.

The rewards, though, have begun to arrive. Five bowling innings into the Border-Gavaskar series, he has taken 12 wickets at 22.00, at a strike rate of 44.5 - better than any other Indian bowler.

Umesh has said his improved numbers in this series are a reflection of the confidence he has gained from playing regularly. He also said he has tried to weed out his weaknesses - including a widely-commented-upon tendency to bowl far too many loose balls.

"Actually, I feel it is all the same. I'm doing the same things [through the season], but the confidence from playing matches, and the hard work that I have put in [have begun producing results]," he said at the end of the second day in Ranchi. "Usually, I used to be in and out of the team and so I didn't understand what to do but as I started playing more matches, I was just focusing on my bowling - what I should do and what I shouldn't.

"I have figured out what my bowling is, where I must bowl, what my weaknesses are, and what my strengths are. Earlier, there was criticism in the media that I bowled a lot on the leg stump, and conceded boundaries on the leg side after building pressure for four balls. I have cut that down to a large extent. Slowly, I am getting back to my ways."

Australia batted first in Ranchi, and, on a pitch that played truer than expected, posted a first-innings total of 451. India began their reply confidently, ending day two on 120 for 1. Umesh felt it had been difficult for bowlers to control the flow of runs given the ease of batting on the pitch and the quickness of the outfield.

"On this wicket, it is very difficult to stop singles," he said. "450 has taken them four and a half sessions to get, so on an average [that is] 100 runs per session. We also made 120 in one session. On this pitch, it is hard to stem the flow of runs; it isn't as easy to bowl as you might think because the singles will keep coming and the outfield is so quick that once it is in the gap, it will go to the boundary. 450 is there or thereabouts [as a good first-innings score here], 20-30 this side or that, but we will try to get to that total."

'I have figured out what my bowling is' © AFP

Steven Smith top-scored for Australia with an unbeaten 178, his second hundred of the series and his sixth in his last seven Tests against India. Umesh said bowling to Smith was tricky given his unorthodox technique and his pronounced shuffle across the stumps.

"Actually, it can be quite difficult," he said. "You know you what to bowl in a certain way, but sometimes when he keeps moving, moves from leg to off and opens up, then it becomes a bit difficult - your plans are no longer effective. So you have to wait till the last minute, depending on how much he moves, before deciding what to do."

Umesh ended Australia's innings with figures of 3 for 106. India's most successful bowler was Ravindra Jadeja, who finished with 5 for 124 from 49.3 overs. Umesh said Jadeja was in the form of his life as a bowler.

"I think he is bowling the best he has been. He has got a lot of five-wicket hauls in recent times and he is bowling really well. Jadeja is the kind of bowler whose bowling style suits any type of wicket. His variations and his control are very good. If he gets even a bit of rough, he knows what his aim is, where he has to bowl. I think he is bowling at his best and he is getting his rewards for that."

Virat Kohli went off the field with an injured right shoulder in the 40th over of Australia's innings, and did not return thereafter. The BCCI have said he is fit to bat, and Umesh said he had already begun batting in the nets.

"The bandage will obviously be there because if you have a shoulder injury, you need the bandage to hold it together but he [Kohli] is ready to play," Umesh said. "He has been batting in the nets as well, so obviously he will come back."

Umesh wasn't sure if the pitch would continue to behave as it has through the first two days, but did not think it would break up too quickly.

"For now, I don't foresee much change but still hope for the best," he said. "If there is some change, good, but for now, as you can see, it still is good for batting. Normally you can't say much about the wicket - how much it will change or help the bowlers."

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • laksvi5642713 on March 18, 2017, 11:57 GMT

    @ CHRIS_P ON MARCH 17, 2017, 23:01 GMT - as usual - terrific comments from you , as well as a few others, this time on a topic close to my heart....indian pace bowling.... -as CRICMYSTIQUE ON MARCH 17, 2017, 22:00 GMT says "Umesh is the greatest example that India donot have a clue about quick bowlers " , we are like the dog that finally caught up with the car it was chasing, does not have clue what to do with it... the virtues of pitching it up, reversing at speed , off stumpish line -et all, something waht Craig mcdermet used to teach the young aussie quicks, is now rubbing off on umesh-ishant...think if BCCI had appointed a specialist pace bowling coach 4 years earlier, how many more wickets they would have taken...sadly such foresight is never the wont of our lot, we win at home -our media bombards us with useless spin and batting stats, everyone is happy....till the next tour...outside the SC...really heartening to watch umesh bowl, cmon champ...knock them over...cheers

  • shripad on March 18, 2017, 6:23 GMT

    @ENPEE To be fair, Ishant bowled really well on day 1. He was unlucky not to get edge of the australian left handers that day. Ishant has been bowling well. But like Umesh, dont get what they deserve on this pitch. What Umesh has is that extra pace which is getting him more rewards. But Ishant hasnt bowled poorly this season. In fact both our quicks has bowled exceptionally well.

  • manoha3434982 on March 18, 2017, 5:21 GMT

    Umesh is a genuine fast bowler India has ever got. I hope with Umesh the fast bowling will improve in India. We need players like Umesh and Jadeja who can bowl on any surface. Umesh is different kind of fast bowler too or I should say he does not follow the tradition of Indian fast bowlers. He is the only India fast bowler I observed who bends his back while fielding and does not attempt to stop the ball by his foot and hence a very effective fielder.

  • David on March 18, 2017, 3:25 GMT

    In the 75th over on Day 1, the TV coverage showed a split screen of Umesh Yadav holding both the new ball and the old ball.

    The length of his fingernails was extraordinary, especially on the middle finger of his left hand. It was also notable that in the two pictures he held the ball with both hands, with three fingers of his right hand concealed behind the ball.

    This is of interest because of the unprecedented early time that he is getting reverse swing, indeed inside the first 20 overs.

    We all know that reverse swing is created by having one smooth and one damaged side to the ball. And that fielders returning a ball via the rough of neighbouring pitches is too inaccurate to help this process.

    Perhaps the umpires shouldn't just check the state of the ball, but also ensure that none of the fielding team has fingernails as long as Umesh Yadav currently boasts.

  • J on March 18, 2017, 3:15 GMT

    @GoodAreasShan The last time I saw Aaron he clean bowled Hashim Amla with a fast unplayable leg cutter when SA toured India. He has improved his accuracy a lot. He got injured in that series and got droped. People forget Aaron has only played some 8-9 test matches in his career so far. He has been hampered by injuries but he along with Umesh has that fast bowler's attitude of never cutting down on his pace which is so refreshing to see among Indian pacers. The team management need to support Aaron the same way they have done with Umesh. Ishant has been given so many chances but he has not improved. Aaron deserves at least half of the chances that Ishant has got.

  • Milind on March 18, 2017, 3:09 GMT

    Being naturally athletic certainly helps! Ditto with Jaddu. Wishing them a long career ala Kapil Dev.

  • Kaustubh on March 18, 2017, 2:54 GMT

    MSD once rightly termed pace without accuracy as useless although he didnt give pacers enough chances (favorable fields) as VK.

  • Asker on March 18, 2017, 2:31 GMT

    It is so nice to see something good being written about this guy Umesh who i felt from the first day is very naturally atheletic, well built and had pace but just needed some mentoring both his mindset and tricks of the trade but now i feel he is fast learning and i can assure he is the most improved of the bowlers on sight now for India. First thing fast bowlers were a novelty for india and some came thanks to Kapil who at least acted as an idol for many who followed like srinath, zak, irfan, balaji, nehra, munaf etc and then we had an upsurge of fast bowlers but our indian board didnt do justice to any one of them except extra pampering provided to the not so much talented Ishant sharma. Now Umesh repaying faith reposed in him on this dead indian wickets and just imagine how he is going to fare in foreign lands. As he said he knew his weaknesses and strengths which he is trying to improve on and become a better bowler same cant be said of our spear head without a head Ishant. keepup

  • castro6065533 on March 17, 2017, 23:09 GMT

    Last time I saw Varun Aaron he was struggling to even land the ball on the cut strip. Looked like Shaun Tait on a bad day.