Umesh Yadav eager to play all formats

The India speedster, who took a four-for in the fourth ODI against Australia in Bengaluru, is keen to hone his bowling skills through different challenges.

When it comes to experience at the international level, Umesh Yadav is the senior-most bowler in the team.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Seldom has India had a problem of plenty in the pace-bowling department. But with a quartet as strong as Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Jasprit Bumrah and fit-again Mohammed Shami, the team management is finding it tough to decide India’s final combination across formats.

Halfway into the World Cup cycle, it seems skipper Virat Kohli has started preferring Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah in white-ball cricket, while Yadav and Shami are front-runners to use the red cherry in the flannels.

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Interestingly, Yadav is the senior-most when it comes to experience at the international level. Still, after being rested for the ODI series in Sri Lanka on the back of an extended run in Tests, Yadav had to cool his heels on the sidelines till India took a decisive lead in the series. Shami, on the other hand, has been making a steady comeback to international cricket after being sidelined with a knee injury since the 2015 World Cup.

Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah, meanwhile, have been phenomenal both with the new ball and in the death overs. Still, with the series having been sealed and two quality back-up options in the ranks, the team management decided to rest both the strike bowlers and give Yadav and Shami a go in Bengaluru.

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Yadav is keen to have more game-time across formats but doesn't get rattled if he has to rest for shorter formats. “For me, one-dayers keep happening. I really like playing Test cricket. It feels good to play Test cricket because you have time. You have various situations. I like those challenges. I like the fact that pitches are different and I want to take wickets on various surfaces.

“When you take wickets, your confidence also increases and you become accurate. You understand how to bowl on different wickets. I’m more than happy to play Test cricket,” said Yadav, who is likely to lead India's pace attack on his homeground.

“In one-dayers, you try hard and give your 100 percent but if you play both the formats, it’s good for you. In my age (29), the more cricket I play is better for me. Later, I shouldn’t regret that I focussed only on one format. I would love to play all the formats.”

Monkey off the back, says Wade

While India will be happy to deal with the problem of plenty in all departments, Australia will be hoping to build on the momentum generated in Bengaluru and end the series with another win. Having won just one of its last 16 away ODIs, the visiting side has a lot to gain from the dead rubber. “We need to play well on the road in the ODI format, so the final match (irrespective of the series result) is important to us. There has been plenty of talk about our record away from home, so it was nice to get that monkey off the back with a win in the last match. It will hopefully help us gain some momentum as we go forward,” said wicket-keeper Matthew Wade.

“This is a new team and it will be nice to get some wins under our belt and maintain continuity. It will be nice to play five or six more matches with a similar looking team. Our players, including myself, have not performed well enough. It will be good to finish here with a win and then lead into the Australian summer.”