Rise of Yadav gives Indian bowling a new cutting edge

Pacer needs to work on his accuracy

Rise of Yadav gives Indian bowling a new cutting edge

Umesh Yadav is a rare breed in Indian cricket. He is a fast bowler and not medium fast which we are used to.

When the Vidarbha paceman cleans up opposition batsmen or when rattles them with pure pace, he is an absolute joy to watch. Having watched a number of Indian batsmen struggle against quality fast bowling, it sort of gives you perverse pleasure when one your own dishes out the same treatment to rival batsmen.

Not since Javagal Srinath made the batsmen hop with his raw pace, has an Indian quick looked so promising. We have had a handful of bowlers – Munaf Patel and Ishant Sharma to name a couple of them – arrive with plenty of promise only to see them sacrifice their pace for endurance.

In that sense, Yadav is cut from different cloth for he loves bowling fast. He has had his share of injuries – his lower-back injury keeping him off action for almost six months – but every time he resumes his run-up, he hurls the leather at frightening pace.

“Before he played for India, he was someone who was quite prone to injuries,” pointed out MS Dhoni. “With the fitness schedule that we have got, we have been able to eliminate that aspect. Still, somebody who bowls so quick, you may see him getting injured on and off. But to keep him fit for international series, especially the ODI series, can be a great help for us,” he remarked. 

On his day, as he showed against Australia during the Champions Trophy warm-up match in Cardiff, he can be absolutely lethal. The Nagpur-born bowler has this rare ability to swing the ball at high speed but in his constant search for that extra yard of pace, he often loses sight of the bigger picture.

Pace, of course, is important but aligning it with discipline is equally crucial. What we have seen in the last two league matches of the Champions Trophy against South Africa and West Indies, and on a number of occasions previously as well, is exactly the opposite of it.

“Yadav is definitely someone who is the quickest when it comes to our bowling department,” noted Dhoni. “He is someone who can rush the batsmen -- the top of them. Also the fact that he can swing the ball, he will be really effective. Just that he has to maintain his composure and bowl in the right areas and not look for that extra pace. If he can bring that to his game, he'll be very effective,” the Indian skipper analysed.

There is no doubt about his ability to take wickets but his economy rates across all formats suggest he has also been wayward with his line and length. He concedes 4.2 runs an over in Tests, 6.32 in ODIs and eight in the lone T20 he has played so far. The 25-year-old was clobbered for 75 runs by South Africa in Cardiff and 54 in nine overs by West Indies, becoming the most expensive among regular bowlers.    
 
“More often you will see him bowling the outswinger, and with that extra pace (and also there's a bit of reverse swing), he can really explode, put the batsmen on the back foot and execute his plans well. But still, he has to learn a lot. With more exposure he will turn into a thinking bowler where he'll think, ‘okay, what needs to be done, what's the game-plan as the game progresses at different stages in the game, what needs to be done. So he's looking good.

“As we always say, with international cricket, it's a constant process where you improve as a cricketer. There's no cricketer who has not improved over the years that he has played. He needs to keep up with the pace. You have to adapt very quickly according to who's batting at what point in time and what his strengths are. So, we have been able to see that (progress) in him, but still he has a long way to go, like each and every bowler,” Dhoni observed.

In his short international career, Yadav has exploded and imploded in equal measure. But with more experience and proper guidance, he can develop as a real strike-force for India.

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