Match-hungry Umesh makes vital strikes on Test return

Having last played an international match in February this year, Umesh Yadav returned to the fold with a healthy haul of six wickets in the Pune Test.

Umesh Yadav claimed three wickets each in the both the innings of the Pune Test.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

Umesh Yadav returned to the Indian Test team with a bang as he scalped a total of six wickets to guide India to a big win against South Africa in the second Test.

With mystery hovering around how the Maharashtra Cricket Association International Stadium surface will behave, the Indian team management decided to draft in the pacer, who had to warm the bench in the first Test in Visakhapatnam.

When given the chance, the 31-year-old did not disappoint. Making optimum use of the early conditions, Umesh kept the South African batsmen under pressure in both the innings. Speaking to scribes after the match, Umesh admitted that going in and out the team is a ‘part and parcel of the game’.

“These situations will keep coming. But what I need to do in these situations is, even if I am not playing, I have to be ready for my chance,” he said.

For that, Umesh feels, it is important to remain focused and stay positive. “I try whatever matches I play -- be it Ranji Trophy, India A -- to get good match time. More matches you play, the better you get. Whatever you bowl in nets, when you play a match, you know what to bowl,” the pacer said.

Waiting game

With frontline seamers Ishant Sharma, Mohammed Shami and Jasprit Bumrah all firing in recent times, Umesh will have to wait for his opportunities. “All the bowlers are doing well, there is a healthy competition and everyone will get their chances at some point or other. I am ready for that and that’s my mindset,” he said.

When he did not feature in the Tests against the West Indies, he had requested the national selectors to consider him for India A games, so that he could remain ‘match fit’.

Umesh has 125 wickets in 42 Tests for India. Photo: AP


“When I didn’t play in the West Indies, selectors put me with India A but when there is a big gap with ODIs and T20s, I told selectors that whatever match is there, please let me play as match practice is very important for me,” said Umesh, who has 125 wickets in 42 Tests.

“At that time, there was no Ranji Trophy, no one-dayers, so I told them I would like to play. When you play matches, you are in that mindset and it helps. Suddenly, you come from home and play a match, it can be a tad difficult for a fast bowler,” he explained.

Intent to pile pressure

After a long day in the field on day three for the bowlers, there were doubts over whether India would enforce a follow-on against South Africa. Umesh said that the plan was to go out there and put the pressure back on the opponents.

“When there is 600 on board, we wanted to get them out quickly in first innings. The second plan was that since none of the fast bowlers had bowled too many overs, we were planning to enforce follow-on. From my point of view, I needed to bowl. All bowlers said that we are ready if follow-on is enforced as we didn’t feel the need to rest,” he said.

“There was an intent to win and it was not like ‘lets bat a bit and stretch the game’. The wicket wasn’t difficult to bat on. Fast bowlers didn’t have much help as there was no seam or swing movement. The ball only swung for a few overs,” Umesh pointed out.

The pacer also stated that there was ‘no pace off the pitch’ and one needed to hit the deck. “If we get some breakthrough with new ball, it becomes easier for the spinners,” Umesh said.

High on confidence after a good show, Umesh will be hoping to keep the momentum going in the third Test in Ranchi as India aims for a 3-0 sweep.

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