Royal Challengers Bangalore fast bowler Umesh Yadav wants to play all three formats of the game for India, and not just Test cricket as he has done in recent times.
“That’s a tag I’ve carried all along,” Umesh said while talking about him being regarded largely a long-form specialist. “Because in Test cricket, you have a lot of time to play around with your pace and swing. If you have the talent, you can reverse it.
“I want to play all three formats for my country because I enjoy all three formats. I have age on my side, and I believe I have the ability to deliver in all formats. I try and give it my best because whether you’re bowling in limited-overs cricket or in Tests, you have to hit the same length with the new ball.”
With competition from Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya, Umesh has played only 71 ODIs since his debut in 2011 – the last in September 2017 – to go with his 36 Tests. And he’s played just one T20 international – against Sri Lanka in 2012, when he took 1 for 24 in three overs.
Umesh was speaking about his aspirations to play all formats for India after his 3 for 23 – all the wickets in one over – was instrumental in RCB’s win against Kings XI Punjab. That performance followed a 2 for 27 in Kolkata, his first IPL game of the 2018 season.
“When you get a fast bowler as your coach, especially one who invests a lot of confidence in you, gives you all the help and support you need, your own confidence as a bowler starts soaring,” Umesh said of the role RCB bowling coach Ashish Nehra had played. “Nehra paaji told me, ‘You’ve got pace at over 140, so you must try and pitch it on the stumps. If a batsman tries to hit you straight or comes down and clobbers a six, that’s fine with me.’
“So I tried to give it all the energy I had, hit the right lengths and areas. And I’ve been able to do this because of him. Ever since our camp began, he’s made me practice bowling at the stumps, with the off stump as the marker in the off side.”
The Kings XI openers had raced to 32 for 1 in three overs when Umesh had Mayank Agarwal caught behind, the first strike in an over that changed the game. “Over the past three-four months, I have played a lot of cricket against Mayank Agarwal,” Umesh said. “So my strategy was to make him play as straight as possible with my stump-to-stump line. And that’s what I kept trying. I pitched up the first delivery, luring him into a flashy hit, and that’s what he did.
There were more celebrations next ball, as Aaron Finch unsuccessfully reviewed the lbw decision given against him. “With Aaron Finch, I knew he’s someone who’s never too comfortable if you bowl him an inswinger at the start of the over,” he said. “So I bowled one on a good length and into the stumps, swung in it with a lot of pace and that ploy worked for me.”
The fifth ball of the over, a short one that Yuvraj pulled, could had been caught had the fielder at deep square leg not misjudged the trajectory. The sixth ripped through the left-hander’s defences from around the wicket. “Initially my plan was to bowl the first deliveries on a good length, then bowl a bouncer and then bowl on a length again,” Umesh said. “I worked on my plans, and I executed them well. That’s precisely why I got those three wickets.”
With five wickets in the first two games of the 2018 season, Umesh has more opportunities to impress his RCB – and India – captain Virat Kohli.