Umesh Yadav and Indian pitches: A love story

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The third test match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy was a rather disappointing one for the Indian team. Indian batsmen’s weakness against top-quality spin lineups was yet again exposed. Be it Moeen Ali, Jack Leach, and Adil Rashid for England, Mitchell Santner and Ajaz Patel for New Zealand, or the newly-found trio of Todd Murphy, Nathan Lion, and Matthew Kuhnemann for Australia, the Indian batters have stuttered a little against top spinners.

Despite the test match ending in a humiliating defeat for India, there were a few positives that came for India. Shreyas Iyer showed that if we take the attack back at the Aussie spinners, they will feel some pressure and give you loose ends to pounce upon However, the biggest positive that emerged out of the test was Umesh Yadav’s spell in the first innings.

On the second day of the test match, Australia started from their last night’s score of 156 for the loss of 4 wickets. The Indian team knew they had to bowl the Aussies out in the first hour or so if they wanted to have any chance at winning the test match. That’s when Umesh stepped in for his team. In a span of 3 overs, Yadav took 3 wickets, for just 12 runs, removing Cameron Green, Mitchell Starc, and Todd Murphy.

As a result of Umesh’s heroes, India managed to bowl out Australia for 197, allowing them a lead of just 88 runs. Nonetheless, the Indian batsmen were not able to capitalize on the chance created by the bowlers and India had to suffer the loss, But Umesh was the star of the show for India.

time and again, Umesh Yadav has shown that he is still India’s best fast-bowling option in home tests. The Indian pitches are dry, offering little to no help for the best bowlers. Thus, on pitches like this, Umesh Yadav can be a trump card for the Indian team .

Even on these dry pitches, the red SG ball swings for at least 5-6 overs initially. Umesh Yadav is a natural swing bowler and possesses the ability to swing it both ways. Couple that with his skill and experience, the right-arm fast bowler is a menace for the opening batsmen.

A fair demonstration of the same we have seen in the test series against Bangladesh in December last year. Umesh constantly troubled the Bangladeshi openers with his pace and swing and got them out on multiple occasions.

Umesh’s swing alone is not deadly, it is also the pace at which he bowls that makes it difficult for the batsmen to play him. When the ball swings at a pace of 140+, it gives the batsman very little time to react. Another skill that makes Umesh irresistible for the Indian test team at home, is his ability to reverse swing the ball. In the current Indian bowling attack, no one has better reverse-swinging abilities than Umesh. That is a must-have asset in the middle overs With this, Umesh allows enough time for the spinners to take a break, and come back rejuvenated.

Over the years, all Indian captains, be it Dhoni, Virat, or Rohit, have constantly used Umesh as a partnership breaker, and Umesh has constantly delivered. Whenever he picks up a wicket, he always makes sure to follow it with at least one or two more in the current spell.

Enough about Umesh’s abilities, now let’s talk about his numbers. Umesh Yadav has played 31 test matches on Indian turf and has picked up 101 test wickets, at an impressive average of 24.63. He is the only fast bowler in the current Indian line-up to have a 10-wicket haul at home. Bumrah, Siraj, and Shami do not have a 10-wicket haul in test cricket, while Ishant has a 10-wicket haul in the Caribbean.

Considering this, it may come to mind that Umesh would probably be India’s first-choice first bowler at home. However, that is not the case. Despite having such impressive numbers at home, Umesh is probably India’s fourth or fifth-choice fast bowler to play at home. He only chips in whenever there is an injury in the team. Nonetheless, Umesh keeps on impressing with his performances in the little chances that he gets to play for the team.

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