India pace battery had a phenomenal season abroad. The likes of Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Mohammed Shami let the ball do the talking and numbers are there to be seen.
While Virat Kohli’s men struggled to bat out sessions under lesser-familiar surfaces, the bowlers relentlessly put them back in the map. However, India was quite impressive in limited-overs cricket, whereas, they were left wanting in the whites.
Nagpur-born, Umesh Yadav will turn 31 in a few weeks time, and he is yet to regain a permanent spot in the side. The right-arm pacer has 106 wickets from 38 Tests while in ODIs he has picked 105 from 73 games.
Just like his colleagues, Umesh has maintained an average of 25.3 in Tests-away, which is yards better than his career average of 34.7.
Known as the Vidarbha Express, the cricketer featured in just one Test and two ODIs during India’s tour of England. He was expensive in both the limited-overs game, conceding 70 and 63, runs respectively, in return, picking three wickets. He did perform few notches better in the shortest format, where the paceman traded his quick overs picking five wickets and leaking 21,36 and 48 runs in the three T20Is.
Umesh bowled a lot of yorkers towards the death overs and on the flip side, he was taken for plenty as well.
Prolific performance in the IPL earned him a call-up
He had a good show in the 2018 IPL where he turned out to be Kohli’s main man in red. Though Royal Challengers Bangalore had yet another forgettable season of hits and misses; Umesh sparkled with 20 wickets at an average of 20.90. As he believes, that caught the attention of the selectors and he didn’t have to wait any longer to don the blue.
“I had played an ODI in Bangalore last year against Australia. Maybe the selectors saw that and the IPL performance and thought I could be trialed. Maybe they thought, “Umesh is playing a lot of red-ball matches, so let’s rest him [when he wasn’t picked].” I wasn’t surprised. For a fact, I know when I’m bowling well I can do well with the white ball too. I did execute the plans discussed in England in the T20Is and ODIs – bowling yorkers at the death, swinging the ball up front.” he told ESPN Cricinfo in an interview.
I didn’t bowl as well as I should have in England – Umesh
However, the smile didn’t last long, as he was shown the door ahead of the Asia Cup 2018 in the UAE. The think-tank went ahead with Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah as the leaders of the pack.
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Moreover, they added youngsters, Khaleel Ahmed, and Shardul Thakur to boost up the line-up. On being dropped, Umesh said it did upset him, but he was aware of the chinks in the armour.
“A little disappointment is natural. I thought the T20Is in England went well, but in the ODIs my economy rate was 6 [6.70 in two ODIs], so they must have thought, “Umesh could have done better”. Even I thought that as per my ability and experience I didn’t bowl as well as I should have.” he said.
“If as a senior bowler I’m giving up runs at six an over, and new guys are also going at the same rate, then there’s no difference between me and others. So I didn’t have much of a reaction [to not being picked]. If a fair chance is being given, let everyone get it. If I do well, then I can definitely come back. And it gives the selectors options to look at for the future.” he pointed.
Transparency between him and selectors
Since the start of 2017, Umesh played a handful of ODIs – 11. He has been in and out of the side and some stellar performances by his teammates meant – the bench gets to be his only companion on tours.
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Yet, there are no bad bones. The cricketer has nothing against the selectors and feels there is a reason for everything. He keeps a practical outlook and understands the happenings. Umesh said the selectors did have a word with him and the communication is healthy.
“They know that if you’re making someone who has played 35-40 Tests sit out, you have to explain to them why. So that communication is there. Like, in England, I played the first Test. In the second Test, they felt they should play a spinner, but with the rain, all plans were changed. Nobody can do anything about it. Their decision went a little bit wrong. Still, they had told me, “It’s not that we are dropping you, Umesh. But our thinking and planning is for an extra spinner, that’s it.” he said.
Then, when Bumrah got fit, he was coming in after already having done well in South Africa. And in the first match, Ishant [Sharma] and [Mohammed] Shami had performed well, so they had to get the nod [ahead of me]. Then they kept doing well, so I also knew that it would be difficult to get a chance. I couldn’t even say, “I should get a chance,” because the guys were taking 20 wickets in every match. I knew I would have to wait for my chance. After playing for a few years, I have that much honesty and awareness to know when I should get a chance and when I shouldn’t.” he added.