Apart from the spin-twins of India, if there was one bowler who was consistently part of the India playing XI in the series against Australia, it was Umesh Yadav, a pacer. During the long home season, where the team played 13 Tests, Umesh participated in 12 of those.
And match after match and series after series, Umesh has been the pick of the Indian pacers. Bowling with the new ball, with the old ball or as a change to give the spinners rest, he has been a top performer for India. There was little that he gave away.
Picking up 17 wickets in the series, Umesh now has the record for most wickets by an Indian pacer in a four-match series. Two others have also picked 17 each but that was at a time when India used to play five-match or six-match series.
While the numbers are clearly in favour of the speedster, one has to watch his spells in the series to believe the impact he had. May be the success of Indian cricket team is directly proportional to the success of its spinners but if Umesh had missed most of the home season like Mohammed Shami did, it would have been a different result for the hosts.
Dharamsala Test. Second innings. Second over. Umesh has the new ball in hand. He is bowling for final time in this series. The next six balls are the some of the best he had bowled. He first beat Matt Renshaw with a good length delivery and the third ball was a bouncer. Renshaw jumped in the air to try to play it. Keeper Wriddhiman Saha jumped with one hand stretched to collect it.
In his next over, a dream good length delivery, to which Warner had no answer to, took the edge of his bat and Saha collected it easily. This was the spell everyone had waited for. Umesh was bowling a top spell of pace bowling with the new ball.
Some good length deliveries, some ferocious short balls, some that made the batsman think about the nature of the pitch, Umesh bowled all of them in one spell. But he had been part of this is different matches.
Umesh did it in Pune, where he picked up eight wickets in match. He did it again in the third Test in Ranchi. In the first innings, he picked up three wickets, bowling with brisk pace and relying on swing and seam movement.
Ever since Umesh made his debut, there were very little doubts about his ability to bowl in the 140s. It was the consistency which hurty his cause. Dharamsala was different and so was the home stretch.
The fourth Test pitch was not “typical Indian” 22 yards. It had bounce in it and enough cracks to keep the seamers interested. Umesh unleashed a fiery spell and a performance which Indian fan would be proud of.
Now, with him showing that he can be a bowler that put batsman in a spot of bother, Umesh needs to keep this going. He needs to be consistent. Before this season, he was in and out of the team. Now things have changed. He is a senior bowler in the pack and clearly has the ability to change the course of the game.