Australia v India, 4th Test, Adelaide January 21, 2012

Yadav stands tall amid the rubble

On a disastrous tour, Yadav's good days have been overshadowed by other bigger events. Under the shadow of the bigger picture is India's rare positive from this tour

Umesh Yadav does not speak English. However, he can bowl fast - for an Indian - and move the ball too. His first press conference in Australia was on the day Michael Hussey had been given out caught behind without having touched the ball. The Australian press was annoyed at the absence of DRS, and wanted answers from anybody who represented India. There was rage in the press box and commentary booths.

Yadav had bowled to Ricky Ponting in front of a 70,000-plus Boxing Day crowd with more poise than he fronted up to the press. It didn't help that he has no media training or translators. One of the Indian journalists was asked to translate what he said. Yadav was asked why his side didn't want the DRS. "I don't know," he said. What he meant was he didn't know what to say, but he had frozen. It is credit to the newspapers here that it didn't get reported out of context.

The next time Yadav attended a press conference he had taken five wickets at the WACA. But on the same day, India lost four second-innings wickets, which had sealed the fate of the match and the series. Yadav was asked that day was if it felt bad that his maiden five-for was coming in a big defeat, about Sachin Tendulkar's unusual reaction at being given out lbw and other angry questions.

On a disastrous tour, Yadav's good days have been overshadowed by other bigger events. Under the shadow of the bigger picture is India's rare positive from this tour. If this whole series was played at Lord's, Yadav would be the only Indian on the honours board. Clearly, he is more at home doing what he does than talking of what he does.

Yadav is fit, strong, quick, and gets the ball to swing late. More importantly, he attacks the stumps, and doesn't wait for edges. Eleven of his 21 Test wickets have been bowled. Another has been lbw. Five matches is a short career for a bigger statistical analysis, but it is worth mentioning that he takes a wicket every 39.2 balls. It is not at large odds with his overall first-class strike-rate of 46.8. Attacking the stumps also leaves less control on the run flow, which shows in his economy rate of 4.24 in Tests.

This kind of bowling doesn't usually sit well with MS Dhoni, but thankfully, Yadav has been given the licence to bowl quick, and because of his good flowing action he looks the likeliest man to buck the Indian trend of bowlers losing their pace after a good, quick start.

Zaheer Khan said of Yadav: "The way he is bowling I am very happy. The way he is taking the responsibility. I think that freedom is important for him. At this age, especially four-five Test matches in, you are allowed to make mistakes. What is important is how you are approaching the game. What attitude you bring to the ground. I am very happy with his attitude. He is a wicket-taker, so that is what his job will be."

In other attacks, the mistakes Zaheer spoke about can remain inconspicuous. Yadav, though, is part of an Indian attack that doesn't always complement him with control from the other end. He has also been part of a unit whose plans were dated: they tried to bounce Ponting out at the MCG, which is a throwback to 2009-10.

Yadav is hardly a finished article. He can get carried away with the short ball, he was ineffective in Sydney, but already he has shown the best grasp among Indians of what length needs to be bowled on pitches that have helped seam movement and swing.

As India look to salvage something in the series, Adelaide promises to be the biggest test in Yadav's short career. The pitch will be flatter, the opposition is on a high, but if the Indian batsmen can finally deliver, Yadav might, for a change, have some cushion to work with.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Atul on January 23, 2012, 21:24 GMT

    We Indians need to learn not to be condescending in our comments on our players...!Lets learn not to kick when someone is down.No one makes it to the National team by fluke.We need to learn to take defeat or failures with grace and also to encourage our players when they need it the most ! Do Indians get to hear the commentary on channel 9 by the Aussies? They r jealously protective of their players, and rightly so.These are National Assets,symbols of pride.The selectors are best placed to make choices/decisions.Give them a break ! They cannot please every one. It is very ok to make suggestions in a respectful tone, but to be bitterly critical does not belong to our rich heritage!!!Lets unite behind our people in a constructive manner, PLEASE !!!!

  • HNL on January 23, 2012, 7:26 GMT

    I feel Yadav and Aaron will form a very good quick bowling pair, with some help from Zaheer and Ishant plus Ashwin to hold one end. India will have to somehow find replacement for Zaheer as he may not last more than a year or two. 35 years is almost certainly the time for a pace bowler to hang his boots and cool his tired heels.

  • kuppuswamy on January 23, 2012, 2:47 GMT

    Short term solutions of who should be in and who should be out is alright but if India is to win abroad we have to have fast as well as spinners pitches.We are lucky that we a big number of state capitals and stadiums.In the medium term and long term only this si going to help India save "face" ,let alone win matches.well let the selectors do their job .After all everybody has their own favorites.May be the only positive that could come out of this as far as batting is concerned is that the seniors may see the writing on the wall and gracefully retire.let us hope at least India puts up a fight.But I doubt as the money they have earned will last them not only for themselves but for some more generations. The "hunger"i is it seems

  • Guru on January 22, 2012, 21:59 GMT

    @Nampally. Yes, I am annoyed by the failures of the Indian cricket team, which I was a big fan of. All these nonsense writing will take the focus of the failures. Already, N.Srinivasan has confirmed what many true Indian fans fear. Let the team come back home, start winning at flat tracks, all will be back to normal.

  • Bernard on January 22, 2012, 20:47 GMT

    He's a good bowler, that much is clear. It also seems like he has a great attitude, busting his guts out there to do his best. Besides Sachin & Ashwin, who has also impressed (maybe not with his fielding though!), the rest of the Indian team could learn something about representing their country with pride.

  • fred on January 22, 2012, 19:09 GMT

    if i was a selector our bowling unit for test( assume 15 players) irfan pathan umesh yadav praveen kumar s sreesanth r ashwin(off brek) rahul sharma(leg spin) zaheer khan/ rp singh bATTING s tendulkar g gambhir a rahane rohit sharma virat kohli dinesh karthik yuvraj singh ms dhoni

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 13:28 GMT

    @naraish..Atul Sharma, he has not bowled a yet at Domestic level yet. I know fitness is important but its a game that needs skill aswell. If we needed only fitness we have a lot of good gyms in Indian from where we can get 11 blokes . . . . Its skill what matters . . Atul Sharma seems to have disappeared from the scene. I am not writing him off but he hasn't played a match yet at domestic level which is disappointing . .

  • Dummy4 on January 22, 2012, 9:31 GMT

    unsung hero. thats wat he really is.

  • rahul on January 22, 2012, 8:58 GMT


  • Srinivas on January 22, 2012, 6:21 GMT

    Ishant has to go. Right now! IF he can't take wickets on pace friendly wickets THEN what's the point huh? Please send him home! He'll make other bowlers' life difficult. If we want good mileage from this talented kid Yadav, then you have to get rid-off hyped underperformers like Ishant. Yeah yeah! Ishant might get a five for here and there. Don't read too much into it guys!

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