India fast bowler Umesh Yadav should be praised for shining in the limited opportunities, he has received in the Test matches in 2018. The 30-year-old pacer bowled his best ever spell against the West Indies in the recently concluded Hyderabad Test. Umesh picked 10 wickets in the match to get his name in the record books.
Coach Ravi Shastri summed up Umesh’s show in the press conference post-India’s 2-0 series win. “Umesh has given us a selection headache and I like this headache,” is what he said.
This is indeed a supreme spell for the Indian pace attack, where a mix of 5 bowlers have done astoundingly well. Umesh has become a vital asset of the quarter as he became the first Indian speedster in over 19 years to pick up 10 wickets in a home Test.
India has been blessed to have this happy headache for a few years now. After Ishant, it is Umesh, who is the second highest wicket-taking paceman for India. Umesh belongs to a classy unit of top quality pacers and the race for a berth in the starting XI, especially in overseas conditions, have spiced up.
Umesh has been a regular in the home Tests, but in conditions away from home, he has missed out and sat on the bench. Earlier against Afghanistan, the fast bowler also gave a solid account of himself in Hyderabad and then in the one Test he played in England, he looked sharp as well.
So how has the Indian pace attack built itself? Where does Umesh stand? Will he be a regular in the Tests against the Aussies later this year?
Here we analyse the situations.
The best Indian pace attack
India have the best pace attack ever in their cricketing history. Ishant Sharma has grown to be the leader of the side and has handled the responsibilities well. In Ishant, one has got the chance to see one end of the bowling hardly giving away anything.
Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah have complimented each other well outside the home. The duo was superb in South Africa and also in England. They have bowled with pace and asked batsmen a lot of questions. Then there is the ever reliant Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
Bhuvi missed the England series and was rested for the series against Windies as well. But when it comes to Australia later this year, expect the senior bowler to make a return to the XI. Umesh, for all his success, has only played four Tests in 2018. The above 4 bowlers are ahead of him in the pecking order at the moment in matches away from home.
The Indian think-tank knows that the pace quartet has the ability to make themselves heard for the series against the Aussies. It will be a difficult task for the management to pick three specialists, with all promising to play a prominent role.
Against the South Africans, the Indian pacers bagged a host of wickets and each time they contributed in getting 20 scalps a Test. In England too, the performances were handy. So on bouncy tracks in Australia, expect the variety of the attack to come strong at the hosts.
Umesh has been consistent in the few chances
Umesh impressed with match figures of 10/133 in the second Test against West Indies. On Indian pitches where pacers often find it difficult to extract much help, Umesh impressed one and all with his standout show. Prior to that against England, he played the first Test and took three scalps.
In the lone Test against Afghanistan, he ended with match figures of 4/44.
In home conditions in the past three years, there hasn’t been anybody as consistent and productive as Umesh. The pacer has been a notch above the rest and has shown his mettle as the workhorse who is enjoying shouldering the responsibility.
Umesh has thrived with the bulk-load given to him and that’s what makes him a fighter. Perhaps he hasn’t featured much outside home as he would have liked is because the rest bring that extra bit of control and discipline. Someone like a Bumrah brings the X-factor. Interestingly, he has featured in more Tests outside the subcontinent in a short period than Umesh in the last 3 years.
In the absence of Shardul Thakur in the 2nd Test, who had bowled only ten deliveries before a groin injury, Umesh was terrific. He was up for the task and bowled nearly 40 overs – which was a bit less than what spinner Kuldeep Yadav bowled.
That shows us the willingness Umesh brings to the table and it also highlights that he is ready to do the hard yards for the team.
Umesh could be unfortunate in Australia
The senior pacer will definitely be on the flight to Australia for the Test series. But the problem surrounding him is that he might not get a single match there. It is a reality when you look at the chances he has got outside as mentioned above.
This is indeed a peculiar situation. But nobody can do anything about the same. The Indian pace department, at the moment, is packed with performers which makes Umesh sit out. Against England and South Africa, the same thing happened. The situation for India is complex.
The likes of Ishant, Bumrah and Bhuvneshwar are regular starters and should be a part of the starting XI in Australia. This means the in-form duo of Shami and Umesh are set to miss out with no fault of their own. One may feel that the 30-year-old Umesh should start against the Aussies, but it is a tight call.
The biggest question lies in front of the management is that not everybody can get a bite of the cherry. Bhuvi is definitely slower than others when it comes to pace, but he can extract swing. He is also very accurate and bats sensibly. On the other hand, Ishant and Bumrah are the first two picks naturally.
Umesh was praised by skipper Virat Kohli for his superb physical fitness and the willingness that was there. “To bowl like that in both innings was a great effort on his part. It showed the kind of fitness levels he had, to keep running in and bowl 140 clicks throughout the game and picking wickets, more importantly. Not just completing overs.”This could rub well for Umesh. What matters most is that the Indian Test team has solid luxury as far pace is concerned we expect them to be at par with the Aussie quicks.