SK Player of the day: Umesh Yadav rips through Australia's batting lineup
The unluckiest Indian bowler through the long home season finally came to the party, making the old ball talk and the Aussie hop around.
With the pitch at Pune bearing a bone dry look on the morning of the first day of the first Test, India went into the match with three spinners. Little did anyone know that one of the standout performances of the day would come from Umesh Yadav.
Perhaps none more so than Virat Kohli himself, because he opened the bowling with Ishant Sharma and R Ashwin. Despite persisting with spin in the morning session, no breakthroughs were made by the tweakers.
Australia played cautiously to give themselves a slow but solid start. When Umesh was finally brought into the attack a few minutes before lunch, he knocked over David Warner’s stumps quickly. The Indian skipper had perhaps held him back intending to use his pace and reverse swing once the ball got a little older.
Meanwhile, Matt Renshaw went off the field, retiring ill. All of Australia’s middle order got starts and until the cusp of tea, Australia looked to be on top at 149/2.
Just like in the first session, India struck mintues before the tea break. Peter Handscomb and the visiting skipper Steve Smith were dispatched in quick succession and the hosts restored parity in the proceedings. The Indian spinners, however, were unable to live up to the expectations as they toiled hard but were unable to knock Australia over for a small total.
Getting close to 200, Australia looked like they would inch close to a fighting total on a difficult pitch.
Just then, Umesh Yadav came to the party. Known to be fast and furious, the speedster was always let down by his control during his initial years on the international circuit. Over the last year, though, the Vidarbha bowler has reinvented himself as a premier Test bowler.
Without compromising on his raw pace and skiddy nature, the pacer developed great control over his line and length, becoming a potent new ball bowler as well as a dangerous prospect with the old ball, bringing reverse swing into play.
This is the skill that made an impact during the last session. With a fast skiddy delivery, he rapped Matthew Wade on the pads and the umpire did not hesitate to give the visiting keeper out. Ball tracking showed that the ball would have only shaved leg stump, but Umesh had already had his share of bad luck this season.
A few overs later, the right arm pacer induced Steve O’Keefe to attempt a loose shot outside off stump for Wriddhiman Saha to take a brilliant catch. One of the senior members in the side, wicketkeeper Saha showed why he is India’s premier choice behind the stumps by pulling off a stunning catch, flying full length to his right.
The very next ball, Umesh sent a bolt of a delivery darting into Nathan Lyon’s pads. The Aussie spinner had no answer to Yadav’s pace and reverse swing and was given out immediately. A review was made use of, but perhaps only because two reviews were available and not so many batsmen for the visitors.
Once again, ball tracking showed the ball to be hitting leg stump, but only just. With his hat-trick ball, however, the pacer was unable to get Josh Hazlewood’s wicket.
With four wickets in his bag, Umesh was given a few more overs to pick his fifth. He also looked to be the most potent bowler on show despite playing alongside three top class spinners. Mitchell Starc had other plans and smashed his way to a valuable half century. With Jayant Yadav and Ravindra Jadeja going at an economy rate of over 4 and 3 respectively, Umesh’s 12 overs produced only 32 runs but 4 crucial wickets.
The Vidarbha pacer has definitely taken a big step towards becoming a regular fixture in the Indian Test team. While his wickets tally throughout the home Test series against New Zealand, England and Bangladesh might not have looked very impressive, his control over the line and length apart from his commitment has stood out.
He was definitely the most unlucky Indian bowler throughout the long home season and it looks like lady luck is finally smiling. For his wonderful bowling on a dry and turning track, Umesh Yadav is the SK Player of the day.