March 24, 2017

How good has Umesh Yadav got?

In the last 18 months, the Indian fast bowler has made significant strides, and the most impressive aspect has been his improved control
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Umesh Yadav's economy rate has improved by 33% in his last 15 Tests © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Quiz question: Which Indian bowler has the poorest economy rate in a single Test match, among those who have bowled at least 25 overs in a match?

Answer: Umesh Yadav. In the Sydney Test of 2015, Umesh leaked 182 runs off 30 overs; he remains the only Indian bowler to go at more than six an over in a Test match (with a 25-over qualification). In fact, there have only been five other such instances in Test history.

When Umesh first arrived in international cricket, his easy action and the pace he generated with it were impressive, but he was a scattergun, liberally spraying the ball all over the place and giving away easy runs. In his first 15 Tests, he bowled in 28 innings, and in 18 of them his economy rate equalled or exceeded four runs an over. His strike rate of 53.6 balls per wicket was excellent, but his high economy rate meant he conceded almost 39 runs per wicket. Along with Varun Aaron, he was among the few Indians bowlers who regularly clocked speeds of 140kph or more, but struggled with his radar.

Over the last 15 months, though, Umesh has got his act together. The accuracy has improved tremendously, and he has achieved it without sacrificing speed. While still clocking speeds of around 140kph, he has consistently been on target in his last 15 Tests: he has exceeded four runs an over only once in his last 30 innings. The maiden overs tally has jumped up too, from 54 to 95. The strike rate isn't as good, but that is partly due to the catches dropped off his bowling this season.

Umesh Yadav's Test stats, before and since Nov 2015
Period Tests Wkts Ave ER Maidens Inngs with
4+ RPO
 Till Oct 2015  15  48  38.56  4.31  54  18
 Nov 2015 onwards  15  35  34.68  2.87  95  1

Through the 2016-17 home season, Umesh has consistently troubled opposition batsmen, though the wickets have only come in this ongoing series against Australia. He has 12 in three Tests at 25. Against England, he only had eight wickets in five Tests at 58, but he bowled much better than those numbers suggest.

Umesh Yadav in each Test series in the 2016-17 home season
Series Mat Overs Wkts Ave ER SR
 NZ in Ind 2016-17  2  46.0  2  62.00  2.69  138.0
 Eng in Ind 2016-17  5  143.5  8  58.00  3.22  107.8
 B'desh in Ind 2016-17  1  37.0  3  39.00  3.16  74.0
 Aus in Ind 2016-17  3  104.0  12  25.00  2.88  52.0

The control stats for Umesh this home season further illustrate how good he has been with the ball. Control stats measure a batsman's comfort levels against a bowler - when a batsman edges, mistimes, or is beaten by a bowler, he is deemed to be not in control of that delivery. Against Umesh, batsmen were not in control for 19.78% of the deliveries they faced. Against other Indian seamers this season, that percentage has been slightly lower. Umesh, though, has averaged 40 this season, while Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have averaged in the mid-20s.

India's four seamers in the 2016-17 home season
Bowler Tests Overs Wkts Ave ER NIC %*
 Umesh Yadav  11  330.5  25  40.20  3.03  19.78
 Mohammad Shami  6  178.1  18  27.50  2.77  18.31
 Ishant Sharma  5  142.0  9  41.88  2.65  17.18
 Bhuvneshwar Kumar  3  73.0  8  25.37  2.78  17.12
* Not-in-control percentage is the % of deliveries which the batmen edged, mistimed, or were beaten

Over the course of a long home season, Umesh has already bowled 330.5 overs, with one Test match still to go. At the moment he is seventh on the all-time list of most overs bowled by an Indian fast bowler in Tests in a season, but he needs to bowl only 4.3 more overs to jump up to fifth spot. The top two in this list were both from the same season - 1979-80, when Australia and Pakistan played six-Test series in India. Kapil Dev's 472 overs is way ahead of any other seamer, while Karsan Ghavri is next with 408.2. Venkatesh Prasad bowled 408.1 in 1996-97, when India played six Tests home and away against South Africa, and then toured the West Indies for five Tests. Kapil's 406.3 in 1982-83 - when India played six Tests in Pakistan and five in the West Indies - is in fourth place.

There have been only six instances of Indian seamers bowling more overs in Tests in a season than Umesh Yadav has bowled in 2016-17 © ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Umesh won't come near the 400-over mark this season, but he is sure to take fifth place. Remarkably, he has sustained his pace through the season despite bowling so many overs and playing 11 Tests. In Australia's second innings in Ranchi - when they batted 100 overs to save the Test - Umesh clocked an average speed of more than 85mph, and a top speed of nearly 90. That average was a marginal dip on what he clocked in the earlier innings but was still nearly as high as Ishant's average of 86mph; Ishant has played only five Tests to Umesh's 11 this season.

Umesh Yadav's speeds in the Test series v Australia
Test Innings Top speed (mph) Ave speed (mph)
1st Test 1st inngs 91.5 87.0
2nd inngs 91.2 86.8
2nd Test 1st inngs 91.7 87.3
2nd inngs 90.8 88.0
3rd Test 1st inngs 92.1 86.3
2nd inngs 89.5 85.4

Over the course of this series, there has been no discernible drop in pace for Umesh, which speaks volumes for his fitness and augurs well for next season, when India play plenty of overseas Tests. Umesh has so far played 21 of his 30 Tests in Asia, but over the next 18 months that imbalance should correct significantly. If Umesh, Ishant, Shami and Bhuvneshwar are all fully fit, India's pace attack could well be a strong force in overseas conditions.

S Rajesh is stats editor of ESPNcricinfo. @rajeshstats

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • jamess0065820 on April 2, 2017, 14:37 GMT

    umesh yadav will get in ipl purple cap!!wait and watch soon in rajkot 1st match with gujarat lions

  • john on March 27, 2017, 10:55 GMT

    Its great that he is getting more control.. He now needs to learn ring craft like Zaheer and think of setting up batsman 2 or 3 over before hand And also try and Psyc out batsman and act a bit more aggressive

  • Ahmad on March 27, 2017, 9:33 GMT

    Bowler is only as good as the captain make use of it. Kohli smartly use most of his overs with old ball with leg side dominant fields to help him make the most of his Waqar Younis type strengths of slingy action, in-swing & reverse swing.

    Dhoni missed it all.

  • Sunil on March 26, 2017, 15:07 GMT

    Umesh has really bowled his heart out and is a vastly improved bowler by leaps and bounds, there's no doubt about it. He even has more wickets than the Aussie pacemen and is still going strong even in the 4th Test, while some of the Aussie pacemen have broken down (Starc). But he still leaks too many runs (even though he has improved his economy rate). This is showing in the really disappointing stat of an average of 40+ in the long home season. It is unbelievable to learn that the great Kapil Dev did it twice! 13 Tests (472 overs!), 63 wkts @20 (79/80), and then again 12 Tests (406 overs!), 49 wkts @29 (82/83)! I mean, consider those averages for a moment, and compare it to the rest in that list! It is staggering that we still haven't found a replacement for Kapil Dev in the pace department. This is something Umesh and the rest of our pacement really have to work on - to bowl with control at a nagging line and length for considerable periods of time.

  • laksvi5642713 on March 26, 2017, 3:31 GMT

    @ CHEGURAMANA ON MARCH 25, 2017, 11:34 GMT - what you've said is correct, for that as mentioned below - need a sea change in mindset, psyche, thinking, our pitches need to change-a fast bowling culture has to develop, our media can help by focussing on this....else get used to winning in india only and the odd test here and there victroy outside the SC conditions.....what a waste of talent is umesh, super fit, runs in, bends his back etc....he's in late 20's , if he does not get that breakthrough super series of bag fuls of wickets or running thru a side - will be a supreme waste of pace bowling talent that we never had and never knew how to handle......i sincerely hope bcci hires a specialist pace bowling coach, and also improves the quality of pitches in our domestic FC setup to be more green and bouncy....things will change in indian cricket, albeit slowly, hope springs eternal

  • Ramana on March 25, 2017, 11:34 GMT

    After such a long season, I doubt all the 4 fast bowlers will be fit for overseas tours. India has to find more fast bowlers and keep them ready for debut.

  • hc1cyt0290554 on March 25, 2017, 5:48 GMT

    This article is a joke! The title is "How good has Umesh Yadav got?" yet he has only taken 35 wickets in his last 15 tests. He took 48 in his first 15 meaning he is getting worse, Who cares about economy rates? We are talking about a fast bowler who takes less than 3 wickets per test and in his last 15 tests just over 2 per test... those numbers are absolutely awful.

  • CricMystique on March 25, 2017, 5:30 GMT

    @ TESTCRICROX-Valid points especially " but is anyone questioning why did'nt this improvement come 4 years-35 tests back? primarily because our psyche&mindset is not pace oriented ,basically it is 'lets wpin to win @ home, who cares about overseas". if someone is improving in TC after such a long time,welcome as it is -the improvement-i'd question those in the coaching hierarchy-the team management, our media...what were they doing? Could'nt they see UY was bowling the same short pitched dross, test in &out? was there any variety in his bowling for so many years/tests? more importantly-was there a willingness to change/mix it up/try something different? if it didn't come fromthe bowler-what were those-i mentioned before, doing? In Umesh - indiancricket has someone who is super fit, who runs in cheerfully&is not afraid of the hard work...from here if he has to leave a legacy, a specialist pace bowling coach will help...and whilst at it-overseas coach plz-else he's a wasted talent..sad

  • laksvi5642713 on March 25, 2017, 4:53 GMT

    The case of Umesh Yadav is the prime example of India's management not having a clue about quick bowling. In fact it is like the dog that finally managed to catch up with the car it was chasing, does not know now what to do. Yes UY has improved-and is heartening to see his improvement, but is anyone questioning why did'nt this improvement come 4 years and 35 tests back? primarily because our psyche and mindset is not pace oriented , basically it is 'lets wpin to win @ home, who cares about overseas'..the way to se this right is appointing a specialist pace coach like donald, cooley, gillespie, craig mcd-who imbibe th virtues of pitching it up, reversing @ speed, 3-4th stump line etc , by this we are forging a pace legacy, an ethos,a mindset -different from the useless spin/batting stats that our media bombards us with everytime we win in home...as for taking 20 wickets outside SC-bulk is taken by pace&less said better about our pathetic pitches, hope someone somewhere is reading, cr

  • Asker on March 24, 2017, 22:43 GMT

    Zak though he was not that pacy, he had uncanny ability to play on a batsman's weakness and used to set him up very well and used his stock delivery to his best advantage, he had a very fine yorker and a bouncer both fastish and slow, that is one reason why he was Dhoni's bowling captain and even before of other captains as well. I believe Shami and Bhuvi have some similar traits in them but need improvement, but one thing Umesh can do is to learn the three/ four main aspects to become a much better bowler ,is to work on his bouncers & yorker and learn what is his stock ball and use it at the right moments to good effect & also learn to work on a batsman's weakness, to set him up, other than that he has a good physique, fitness level etc need for a pace bowler and i am glad he is improving. I wish our Ishant had this attribute in him other than the more famous potential and I wish Aaron also picks from here and becomes like Umesh. I am looking at Ozy bowling Starc,Cummin,hazelwood WOW!

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