Umesh needs to be handled differently

Umesh Yadav-PTI

Umesh Yadav is really quick, but as of now has not been at his best in the limited overs format. It will be in the best interest of the team as well as the individual if he can be preserved for Test cricket.

Team India has banished all the clouds of doubt that lingered on the eve of their departure to England, thanks to a refreshingly positive brand of cricket in the Champions Trophy. Of course, the tournament is not over (at the time of writing) but the manner in which they combated weather and pitch conditions was admirable.

In a country where pacers are expected to rule the roost, Ravindra Jadeja stole the thunder with a five for, thereby reaffirming that consistency is the key to success in any format of the game. He has displaced Pragyan Ojha as the lead left-arm spinner, more due to his ability to bowl a stump-to-stump line. His multi-dimensional ability has only given skipper M. S. Dhoni the confidence to go in with a 6-5 combination, which is a definite change for the better.

To see the spinners dominate on a cold day and that too against a side like Pakistan, which can handle spinners better than the other sides, speaks volumes about the confidence and exuberance of youth.

It was not a case of bowlers saving the day for India as the batsmen played with aggression and panache. Shikhar Dhawan led the charge for Team India and his successive centuries proved that his Test hundred on debut was not a flash in the pan. He is similar to Sehwag in that his approach is simple and straightforward sans any self-doubts.

There was a fair bit of anxiety as the batting line-up was relatively inexperienced with the selectors taking the bold step of dropping acclaimed performers of the past. The new opening pair of Rohit Sharma and Dhawan led the charge and the absence of lead fast bowlers in the opposition cannot be seen as the prime reason for their success. It was pleasing to see both of them back themselves and play their shots without any inhibitions. Despite his success at the top of the order, I still wonder if that is the right position for Sharma. He can be a destroyer in the later part of the innings when he is confident and in form.

The successful run, however, cannot make the team management ignore the fact that Umesh Yadav needs to be handled differently. He is really quick and as of now has not been at his best in the limited overs format. It will be in the best interest of the team as well as the individual if Umesh can be preserved for Test cricket. Team India needs him to be fit when it plays a Test series and as such, it is critical that his confidence is not dented as a result of him getting clobbered in the ODIs. The other factor that can be more detrimental is when Umesh chooses to sacrifice pace for accuracy in order to be economical in the shorter formats of the game.

Zaheer Khan fitted into the scheme of things in all formats all right, but the big difference is that Zaheer became crafty much later in his career. Besides, he was sensible enough not to curtail his pace in quest of accuracy. He picked up the nuances of reverse swing, which enabled him to outwit the batsmen. This separated him from the rest. If Umesh can develop the knack of reversing the ball, then he can emulate the two Ws — Waqar and Wasim — by bowling flat out in his first spell and resorting to reverse swing with the old ball. It is important that the team management chalks up a plan for him as he will be required to deliver in Tests.