August 26, 2014

A surprise omission from the squad for the Test series, one of India’s leading pacers, Umesh Yadav, has returned hungry and keen to prove his detractors wrong during the ODI series in England. While the senior men were engaged in a tough battle against England, Umesh was a part of the successful ‘A’ tour of Australia, where he grabbed a five-wicket haul and also scored 90 with the bat during the first unofficial Test against Australia ‘A’.

Umesh was happy about his performance in the recently concluded ‘A’ tour of Australia and stressed it was a huge confidence booster for him. “I bowled well and picked wickets on flat pitches. There was bounce, but they weren’t as quick as we had expected them to be. So, we had to assess the wickets, study the bounce and bowl accordingly. Getting a five-wicket haul was a huge confidence booster and I hope to carry that confidence into this series,” he said during a free-wheeling chat with BCCI website

Accepting that bowling in English conditions would be a different kind of challenge when compared to the Australian conditions, Umesh stressed on the ability to make the ball swing. “The wickets in England are generally softer and have spongy bounce. My plan will be to try and bowl as full as possible in order to give the ball the time to swing. The ball stops before coming on to the bat here unlike in Australia, where it skids through,” the pacer felt.

“It shouldn’t get too difficult, but sometimes it takes time to adjust the length. When you walk to your bowling mark, that’s when you need to continuously tell yourself to bowl full. You have to keep reminding yourself. Even if you get hit for runs, it is important to stick to the fuller length because that is your only chance of picking a wicket. If you shorten your length, the chances of taking a wicket will be close to nil,” he added.

Having been used to the Kookaburra ball in Australia, Umesh reckoned he needed to make the adjustment to the Duke balls – which are used in England and compared it with the SG balls – that are used back home. “The Duke ball is very similar to the SG Test ball we use back home in terms of swing and movement. Kookaburra is very different as the seam flattens out after 10-15 overs and it gets tougher to grip. It takes a while to get used to the Kookaburra but Duke is fine because we are used to bowling with the SG,” he said.

Having been a part of the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) unit in the Indian Premier League (IPL), Umesh worked under the tutelage of legendary Pakistan pacer, Wasim Akram. The Vidarbha pacer spoke with gratitude about Wasim Akram, who helped him gain control over his yorker and also worked on his swing bowling.

“I had a problem with the yorkers as my ball often strayed on the leg. Wasim bhai helped me with that. He said, when you are at your bowling mark and about to bowl a yorker, just keep all your focus on the spot you want the ball to pitch and don’t think that it will go down the leg side. He said it is very important to be aware of your whole body and its position whether your bowling arm is following the ball and how your follow-through is. You have to ensure that your body and mind are in perfect sync. Even the slightest of angle change will affect where your ball pitches. He told me to make sure the body is always behind the ball and you follow the ball till the end.”

About swing bowling, Umesh said: “The body alignment at the time of release is the key to bowling fast while swinging the ball. If your wrist position is wrong, your swing will go wrong. If your head is falling over, your line will be ruined.”

Umesh felt the new ICC rules (of two new balls at each end) has greatly helped the new ball bowlers, although he conceded it was difficult to get the ball to reverse. “It has made things more helpful for the fast bowlers. Earlier, the ball deteriorated very soon in the innings and there wasn’t much left for us. Now you have the chance to swing the ball for 20 overs. Also, all the pacers in the side now get an equal chance to bowl with a new and hard ball,” he said.

Talking about team plans during a 50-over match, Umesh said it depended mainly upon the sequence of events. “If not many wickets have fallen in the beginning, the plan is to contain runs and build pressure to induce an error from the batsman. But sometimes, you go for wickets in the middle overs, especially during the batting power-play because you want new batsmen out there. In the death overs, you basically have to make absolutely sure that you bowl exactly to the field that is set. With only four men outside the circle it has become harder to save boundaries,” he said.

The 26-year old pacer has had a habit of sustaining injuries, but he confidently declared that all injuries have been a thing of the past. “There is a lot of talk about me having back and shin injuries recently. I want to clarify that I had a stress fracture in my back four years ago and had a reaction during the 2011 England tour, which I missed. After that I have not had any injury. I have never had any shin problems at all. So, yes, I am 100 per cent fit and I have been playing a lot of cricket,” he signed off.

Courtesy: CRIC BUZZ


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