Umesh Yadav resembled a starry-eyed teenager himself,forced to watch from the side as his senior team mate Murali Kartik obliged fans with autographs and photographs in Bangalore on the eve of the Duleep Trophy fixture. But by stumps on Thursday,it was him that everyone at the Chinnaswamy Stadium was queuing up to talk to. The 21-year-old Vidharbha lad was the star of the day with figures of 5-76,including wickets of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
I had no clue that I was playing till early this morning and to finish the day like this is a special feeling, said Yadav,who is still in his debut year of first-class cricket. Playing against the likes of Dravid and Laxman did give him goose-bumps,but he decided to concentrate on his strengths. The only other big name I had bowled to was Hrishikesh Kanitkar,when we played against Madhya Pradesh, he said.
Dravid was his first victim,caught at backward short-leg,and he went on to add Laxman and Arjun Yadav to the list. He got Laxman,then broke the Dinesh Karthik-Arjun Yadav stand,by getting the latter to miscue a pull shot,before making a mess of Laxmipathy Balajis stumps later in the day for the second five-wicket haul of his career.
The lanky pacer said he enjoyed Laxmans wicket the most,as he had to work hard for it. He was playing well,but it looked like he could edge any of my deliveries,and he did, he said of the South Zone skippers dismissal.
Yadav may have made a terrific start to his Ranji career,grabbing 20 wickets at 14.60 in the four matches he has played this season,but said that he started bowling with a cricket-ball only two years back. I used to play a lot of tennis-ball cricket back home,before a friend of mine,who was playing A division cricket,asked me to give it a shot, he said.
Yadav,who plays for Air-India in the Times Shield in Mumbai,said the man responsible for his rise was veteran Vidharbha off-spinner Pritam Gandhe,who spotted his talent.
He has been instrumental in my success and I owe him a lot, he said. His parents too have been very enthusiastic about his cricket,said the second year BA student,saying his father bought him a motorbike so that he could commute easily.
Yadav also said that Central Zone skipper Mohammad Kaif played a big part. Leading the ground off the field will always be a cherished moment.