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Sanjay Bangar explains why Umesh Yadav did not open the bowling in Pune

India's batting coach hails skipper Virat Kohli's 'smart thinking' to hold back Umesh till the 28th over.

Umesh Yadav
Umesh Yadav’s vicious spell of reverse-swing tore through Australia’s lower-order

What’s the story?

Taking into account Indian skipper Virat Kohli’s trust in his fast bowlers, his decision to open the bowling with Ravichandran Ashwin during the first innings of the opening Test against Australia in Pune raised a few eyebrows. In fact, pacer Umesh Yadav had to wait till the 28th over before getting the opportunity to bowl.

However, batting coach Sanjay Bangar reasoned that the move was ultimately aimed at keeping the Vidarbha speedster fresh in order to capitalise on his prowess with the old ball. 

“Umesh has been to known to bowl well with the old ball. Even in the series against England, you could see he got a lot of reverse swing. We had held him back expecting that the ball would reverse pretty early in the innings. It was the precise plan to hold him back as there were two left-handers at the top of the order.

“It’s all part of the plan wherein you know the instinct or strength that each individual possesses”, Bangar said at the end of day press conference.

Extra Cover: SK Player of the day – Umesh Yadav rips through Australia's batting lineup

Praising Kohli’s decision, he explained, “We always knew about the capabilities of Umesh who can pitch the ball slightly fuller with reverse swing coming very early into the game which we were expecting to happen. It was smart thinking by Virat. It helped him remain fresh throughout the day which made him very incisive in his second and third spells as well.”

The Context

Upon losing the toss on a pitch already showing signs to deteriorating rapidly, India struggled to break the opening partnership between David Warner and Matt Renshaw. Ishant bowled four overs before spin was introduced from both ends. But, both batsmen picked up length swiftly to lead Australia to a strong position of 81/0 at the end of the 27th over.

The heart of the matter

Umesh was finally introduced into the attack in the 28th over. As he has often done right throughout this home season, the 29-year old provided the breakthrough by castling Warner. Buoyed by the opening, the Indian spinners found their rhythm and carved away at the middle-order.

Extra Cover: SK Play of the Day – Wriddhiman Saha's sensational one-handed diving catch in Pune

At 190/5, the visitors were setting their sights on reaching a formidable total. With the ball roughed up, Kohli brought back Umesh to attack the lower-order. Aided by Wriddhiman Saha’s spectacular glove-work, he did exactly that by picking up three quick wickets to leave the Australians in tatters at 205/9. Even as they finished the day at 256/9 on the back of Mitchell Starc’s big-hitting, Umesh remained the pick of the bowlers with figures of 4/32 from 12 overs.

Also Read: Allan Border tears into Matt Renshaw for retiring ill in Pune Test

Sportskeeda’s Take

In his captaincy career thus far, Kohli has handled his fast bowlers remarkably well. Even though his gamble to hold back Umesh till almost the end of the first session seems to have paid off, the fast bowler could have been given a couple of overs with the new ball as he is also capable of generating conventional swing.

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