Since July 2016, Umesh Yadav has bowled 493.1 overs across all formats in international cricket. That’s by far the most by an Indian fast bowler in this period. For the record, Mohammed Shami has bowled the second-most with 287.5 overs. But to Yadav’s credit, it’s been difficult to make out the workload that he’s put his body through over the last 12 months, starting from the Test series here in the Caribbean last year. But apart from having gained a lot of bowling miles in that time, the seamer has also transformed himself from a once-erratic pacer with some bright moments thrown in to a consistent wicket-taker, and India’s premier pacer across all formats.
After a slightly tepid Champions Trophy, Yadav has been back to his rhythmic best in the West Indies, and been one of the main reasons the hosts have struggled to get off to starts with any sort of momentum. And Yadav puts down his fitness to a better understanding of his body, and a new fitness regimen. “Whenever I play cricket, I know the body will get tired. I know there’ll be days when I’ll get to bowl a lot and others when I won’t. The last 10 months, the fast bowlers have contributed a lot. We have bowled 15-20 overs in every innings regardless of whether the pitch is slow or fast,” he said in Kingston on Wednesday, on the eve of the fifth and final ODI with India looking to avoid a rather embarrassing drawn series result.
“My recovery and training programme and Basu sir has been of great help since he’s come in. The programme and training he’s given me, some exercises like Snatch, which means even when I train, I don’t feel like I’ve become tired. Muscles get strong, better but not tired. The recovery sessions have helped a lot which means my body is always fresh,” he added. The workload, he believed, was only serving him better. For, as he puts it, “Fast bowling is the best form of fitness training for a fast bowler.”
Throughout this hectic period, the major facet of Yadav’s bowling, his pace, has hardly been affected and he’s consistently remained the quickest bowler in India’s rather-flourishing fast bowling ranks. And Yadav insists it’ll remain his major strength throughout. “My pace is my pehchaan. It’s everything for me. If I was in the range of 130-135 (kph) when I started, I probably wouldn’t have been noticed or come this far, and it won’t get affected. Playing non-stop cricket over the last 10 months has ensured that I have balanced that pace well with swing and length. And I’ve learnt to back myself,” he said.