Kohli: 'Umesh is a very talented bowler'

Umesh Yadav’s maiden 10-wicket haul in Test cricket was instrumental in helping India win the second and final Test against Windies with two days to spare. And he came in for special praise from skipper Virat Kohli for his feat.

Virat Kohli and Umesh Yadav celebrate the dismissal of Roston Chase in Hyderabad on Sunday.   -  AFP

Umesh Yadav’s maiden 10-wicket haul in Test cricket was instrumental in helping India win the second and final Test against Windies with two days to spare.

And the Vidarbha seamer came in for special praise from skipper Virat Kohli for his feat. “Not many people realise this but Umesh (Yadav) is a very talented bowler,” Kohli said in the post-match media conference in Hyderabad on Sunday.

“He can bowl you these unplayable deliveries every now and then which is something that we experience in the nets all the time where, as a batsman, you feel that you couldn’t have done anything else apart from getting out.

“He understands his game better and has come a long way in Test cricket. With Shardul Thakur breaking down on the first day, to bowl like that in both innings showed just how fit he is. And not just completing overs but picking wickets. It was a standout performance in his career and something he can build on,” he added.

With India’s high-profile tour of Australia not far off, the Indian seamers’ ability to pick 20 wickets in a Test is a quality that’s bound to hold the side in good stead on pitches where pace and bounce have been a batsman’s undoing. The likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Umesh Yadav have emerged as weapons of choice for India while touring overseas and Virat feels, the fact that the pacers have to jostle for a place in the playing XI is ‘a good headache to have’.

“Four Tests in Australia can be brutal. The ball doesn't do much there unlike in England. So, you need to run in and bowl all day and hit the right areas at a good pace.

“Batting is something we want to work on collectively, in light of our recent series (against England) but bowling is what we want to keep as our major strength in order to have a chance of doing well while touring overseas.  It's good to have the guys confident and raring to go.”

Against a team without the wherewithal to beat world’s No. 1 Test team in its own backyard, the two-Test series versus the Windies was tipped as an ideal opportunity to try out India's bench strength, especially in the batting department.

The 18-year-old Prithvi Shaw, who was adjudged the Man of the Series for his performance — a century on debut in the first Test and a quickfire 70 here — and wicket-keeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, who despite missing out on a maiden Test hundred at home, showed promise with the bat, were the two big positives, Virat pointed out.

“The youngsters played with a lot of freedom. Prithvi (Shaw) was outstanding, and (Rishabh) Pant played fearlessly.  They are being spoken to as far as the areas they need to work on are concerned. I know the conditions weren't as challenging as they might be in the future but in terms of solidifying their place in the team and understanding how to play at this level, it was brilliant.

“In Test cricket, confidence is the most important thing. Getting a Man-of-The-Series award in your first series regardless of how or where you play, it’s outstanding.”

In September 2017, at 17, Shaw became the youngest player to score a century on Duleep Trophy debut. A year later, he’s plying his trade with the national side, putting an ‘international’ attack to the sword with his aggressive strokeplay. Virat felt that “none of us were even 10 per cent of what he is at 18.”

“He (Prithvi) looks like a guy who plays fearless cricket and can give you the kind of start you want at the top. But he isn’t reckless, he's very confident about his game. You might feel like he will nick one but he hardly does that. We saw that in the nets in England. Playing so many shots against the new ball and being in control of all of them is a rare quality.  He has to build on that but for a guy coming in and playing like that in his first series; it's a great sign for Indian cricket.”