Indian pacer Umesh Yadav has been pretty consistent with his bowling line and lengths in recent times. He was also the most improved Indian bowler in India’s successful domestic Test season and he feels that a lot of credit for the same goes to newly-appointed bowling coach Bharat Arun who worked on his flaws during his earlier stint with the national team.

During a recent interview, Umesh said, “Yes, last season has been one of my best in Test cricket where I showed a lot of consistency. But having shown that level of consistency, I would attribute the success to the efforts I had put in to rectify my mistakes of preceding seasons.”

He further elaborated, “The results showed because I worked on my bowling when I was getting in and out of the team. Bharat Arun sir used to work a lot with me when I wasn’t part of the playing XI. When I would be in Nagpur, it would be Subroto Banerjee sir (former India seamer) who would work on my technique. I am indebted to both.”

In the Test series against Australia, Yadav took as many as 17 wickets and it is highest no of wickets by an Indian pacer in four-match Test series. Previously he was known for his out-swingers, but in the home season, he demonstrated his all-around capabilities of in swing and some ferocious spell of reverse swing.

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Talking about his improvements, Umesh said, “Actually, my natural grip on the seam is one where fingers are locked. That’s the grip for outswing deliveries (away going for right-hand batsmen). Before this season, I worked on the open grip with a slight alteration of my wrist position. This grip has two fold benefit – you can get the delivery back in and also at times get it to straighten after pitching.”

Umesh is currently preparing himself for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka where Kookaburra balls will be used for Tests instead of the ‘SG Test’ balls used for matches in India. He said, “Kookaburra balls on flat decks can be a challenge after the ball gets semi-old (25 overs). The best chance to get quick wickets with red kookaburra is the first 15 overs when the seam remains pronounced. Once the seam flattens out, it would be a challenge for the fast bowlers.”

He further added, “With the old Kookaburra, you have to mix it up. If reverse swing happens, then that’s a major help but if there’s no reverse then one needs to think out of the box. I might try to bowl cross seam to get some extra bounce. A couple of bouncers followed by yorkers may be of great help.”

Playing 12 Test matches in a single home season had put his fitness to a test and he has passed it with flying colors due to due to a strong lower body muscles. He said, “I have done a lot of power training to strengthen my core which is an absolute must for a fast bowler. I have very strong hamstrings which have helped me bowl long spells. The stronger your legs are, the faster you can bowl. I would also like to thank our trainer Shankar Basu, who has helped me maintain the fitness of highest standard.”

While he has sealed his spot in the test squad, Umesh is still not the first choice bowler for his captain in limited overs cricket, especially in the presence of Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah. Talking about the same, Yadav said, “Well, I am not really worried about all these things because team management has a specific plan in mind. Last season, I played a lot of Test matches while Bhuvi and Jasprit played lot more ODIs. I am happy because I played a lot of international matches last season with a fair bit of success.”

On-field aggression is a trait which is generally associated with pacers, but Umesh is a complete contrast. He concluded, “I believe that my aggression should be completely channelized in the delivery that I bowl rather than my body language. I have never believed in sledging the opposition batsmen. My delivery should be good enough to intimidate them.”

By Nilabh Aloe