Less than a week after playing a crucial role in India’s win over South Africa in the fourth and final Test of the series, Umesh Yadav was back at the Feroz Shah Kotla. The Indian whites were replaced by dark hues of the Vidarbha blue and the opposition was 2013 Vijay Hazare Trophy champions Delhi.
Delhi weather, if not significantly, had changed considerably in the last four days. Unlike Monday – when Yadav ‘reversed’ the game in India’s favour – the humidity levels were down and there was a strong breeze blowing across the ground, making the 16 degree reading feel like something under 10.
The setting was ideal for a fast bowler to warm-up and make most of the conditions on offer. Delhi, asked to bowl, were the first to get their hands dirty but it was Yadav who stood out with a sensational spell of 2/39 in Vidarbha’s 163-run defence.
Scattered clouds didn’t allow the sun to affect pitch’s behaviour during Vidarbha’s bowling, and Yadav presented a treat. From the first over, he was on target and operated in a nice channel outside the batsman’s off-stump. It wasn’t a green top but there was encouraging carry and enough movement to keep bowlers interested.
Yadav, often guilty of spraying it all over the place, was tight in his approach. Both Delhi openers Gautam Gambhir and Unmukt Chand had a tough time facing the 28-year-old who was bowling consistently in the higher 140s.
There were plenty of occasions when the Delhi batsmen just managed to put bat to ball. Yadav conceded only 19 runs in a fiery opening spell and removed Gambhir who dragged a brisk delivery back on to his stumps. He was off the attack for a while as spinners took centrestage but returned towards the fag end of the innings and spiced up the nervy contest.
Delhi, 133/8, after 40 overs and had Ishant Sharma, Pradeep Sangwan in the middle. Badrinath turned to his most experienced bowler, and Yadav fired on all cylinders.
The seamer unleashed toe-crushers and banged the odd one short to keep the tail-enders hopping. Ishant managed to survive the hostile spell but Sangwan had his stumps knocked over by the speedster. In his three spells (bowled an over in the middle overs), Yadav was miles away from inconsistency. Speed was maintained without compromising control. Seamlessly, he eased into the shorter format and did the job for his state.
In a month’s time Yadav would like to do the same for the country, provided he’s picked for the limited-overs series in Australia. The seamer has enjoyed bowling in that part of the world, in both formats. After impressive outings in the 2011/12 Test series, he was the leading wicket-taker for India in the 2015 World Cup with 18 scalps. Those highs came under MS Dhoni – then Test skipper – but Umesh is fitting well in Kohli’s template of captaincy too.
Kohli is developing into a bowlers’ captain. The skipper has backed his bowlers, seamers in particular, to come good in any situation of the game and feels it’s important to give every player a dose of confidence at the right moment.
“It is very important to give confidence to the bowlers. We have told the bowlers that they are the bosses and they will dictate terms in Test cricket. And we want each bowler to think, ‘I am going to win the match for India’. Batsmen will contribute at some stage, but it is up to the bowlers to take responsibility and feel like match-winners,” Kohli said to bcci.tv.
Kohli did the same at Kotla early this week and Yadav didn’t disappoint either.
“He (Yadav) just turned the whole game around. Those are the small moments when you need to show a little more belief in a particular bowler and push him a little more. In return he will give you the whole game. That’s exactly what Umesh did,” Kohli said.
A heavy limited-overs calendar awaits MS Dhoni and Co, and Umesh, to cement his place in the XI, should continue doing that he does when at his best – speed with just enough control.
Unmukt keeps for Delhi
As we reported earlier, Unmukt Chand was behind the stumps for Delhi in the contest against Vidarbha. Replacing Shikhar Dhawan, Unmukt allowed the hosts to field an extra batsman in place of wicketkeeper Rahul Yadav. It turned out to be a good game for wicketkeeper-batsman Unmukt. The right-hander took four catches and scored a patient 57 with the bat, under pressure. Seeing his ward do the duties with the big gloves on, coach Sanjay Bhardwaj said, “It shouldn’t be a problem for him. I mean any fit and focused player can do that. And Unmukt has done it in the past. It will help his batting too as it would help him focus better.”After middle-order collapses in their first two games, Delhi are unlikely to relieve Unmukt from keeping duties.
Brief scores: Vidarbha 163 (Fazal 83; Ishant 5/21, Bhati 2/21) beat Delhi 145 (Unmukt 57; Jangid 2/23, Umesh 2/39).