What differentiates this Indian side from previous squads touring down under is the surfeit of young bowlers. The Indian selectors used the West Indies tour of India, and the ODI series at home against England that preceded it, to experiment with the bowling. Seniors like Sreesanth and Harbhajan were given a rest even as the rare, bold experimentation paid off. Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron and Vinay Kumar with the new ball joined Ashwin and Ojha with the old to underscore their credentials at the highest level.
The fast bowlers in particular were a revelation. While the likes of Ashwin and Ojha have been in the reckoning a bit longer, players like Yadav and Aaron had not had international exposure before the West Indians came visiting. In the absence of India’s bowling spearhead, Zaheer Khan, and Praveen Kumar, who shone on the England tour, nobody would have expected these youngsters to do exceedingly well on slow Indian tracks. But more often than not, Yadav and Aaron bowled their hearts out and gave India early breakthroughs, in what turned out to be a highly successful series for the home side.
Umesh Yadav stood out with his willingness to bend his back on unresponsive wickets to bowl at speeds exceeding 140 kmph. How often have we seen young Indian “fast” bowlers bowling at 140-plus until they got selected, mysteriously dropping to 120 kmph immediately afterwards. Offhand, I can think of Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel, to name just two.
Interestingly, Yadav who made his debut in the triangular ODI series in Zimbabwe, in May 2010, had a less-than-impressive start to his international career. In his first match in Bulawayo, the young fast bowler conceded 48 runs without taking a wicket. He did not do much better in the second game against Sri Lanka, wherin he had figures of 1/61, in 10 overs bowled. That said, the solitary wicket he got was that of Sri Lanka’s top scorer Mathew who made 75 with Yadav castling the batsman who played at number four in the Lankan’s batting order. That was followed by 0/20 in four overs against Zimbabwe, in the next game, to end a rather disappointing outing in his debut series.
The selectors chose to recall the young bowler when England toured India for an ODI series, in October 2011. Yadav responded by taking 2/32 off 5 overs, in the first ODI to help vanquish England to 174 all out in 36.1 overs. He was amongst the wickets again, in the second game, snaring 2/50 in 8.2 overs, including that of Pietersen, caught behind. The third ODI of the series saw Yadav going for runs on a benign track at Mohali; he conceded 71 off his 10-over quota.
Then came his test debut against the West Indies at Delhi. With a none-too-impressive 0/ 52 in the first innings, Yadav did better by snaring 2/36 in the second. The youngster will surely remember the second test match at Kolkata as the game in which he came of age in test cricket. Yadav finished with 3/23 in 7 overs to help skittle the visitors for 153 in the first innings. After providing the early breakthrough with Barath’s wicket, Yadav went on to dismiss the visitors’ best batsman, Bravo, and followed it up with the scalp of Samuels. The young fast bowler’s second innings contribution of 4/80 must surely have cemented his place in the test squad for some time to come, with his scalps including front-line batsmen, in Braithwaite and Chanderpaul.
Six wickets for 146 runs conceded in the three ODI matches he played in would have only boosted Yadav’s confidence, ahead of the tour of Australia, especially a brilliant spell of 3/38, in the second game at Vizag. Ishant Sharma did a star turn on India’s last tour of Australia. While injury and inconsistency have rendered Sharma less effective since that brilliant series, Yadav can look ahead to the oncoming international series to grab the spotlight.
Yadav has since taken 3/39 on the opening day of India’s match against CA Chairman’s eleven, the visitors’ practice game ahead of the first test. Yadav’s performance stood out on a day the batting side scored 398/6, with the likes of Ojha (2/149) and Vinay Kumar (1/89) going for plenty of runs. The youngster from Vidarbha has sounded the knell ahead of a battle he is sure to enjoy, on the faster, bouncier tracks down under.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.