'Umesh is the find of the tour' - Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir has termed Umesh Yadav the find of the tour, and India's possible answer to the fast bowlers who have tormented their batsmen for long. He said it was time people stopped saying India can't produce fast bowlers. However, Gambhir's optimism about Yadav doesn't quite reconcile with the team management's. Before Yadav played the game against Australia on February 12, he had last bowled in a competitive environment on January 27.
When he got a limited-overs game, though, Yadav bowled 10 overs for just 49, bowling inside Powerplays and at the death, removing two dangerous-looking batsmen, Michael Clarke and Peter Forrest. "Umesh for me is the find of the tour," Gambhir said. "Someone who can bowl 150 consistently. It's time we can give back to the opposition what we have been receiving for years and years.
"Someone who can hit the deck hard and bowl 150 consistently can rattle any batsman in the world, even the greats … 150 coming at you is always tough to face. Especially in the middle overs. The way he bowled for those two crucial wickets were fantastic. More than the wickets, 149-150 consistently is a great find, and hopefully we can try and develop him as a matchwinner for us. Still early days, hopefully he can go on for a long time, and try and take lots and lots of wickets."
When asked where Yadav had been all this while - on tour but not being played - Gambhir didn't quite have a concrete response. In both the Twenty20s, India went with two specialist spinners to go with a group of part-time spinners. They did the same in the first one-dayer. Then Zaheer Khan recovered from his knee niggle, and was back as the third quick.
There was an apparent lack of confidence in Yadav until the game against Australia. It could have had to do with his lack of control in Tests where he strayed onto the legs often and conceded runs at 4.66 per over, which took his series average to 39.35 despite a decent strike-rate of a wicket every 50.5 balls, the best among the Indian bowlers in the series.
"There has always been a rotation policy," Gambhir said. "PK [Praveen Kumar] bowled well when he last came to Australia, and with two new balls he could have done well. But then Umesh, as we have seen, against Australia, on such a flat track, bowling that well, hopefully now he should play a lot more games."
Gambhir went on to rave about Yadav some more. "Someone who can bowl 150 is great for Indian cricket because we have been missing this for years and years. We talk a lot about our fast bowlers that they are not as quick, but someone like Umesh, I think, he is fantastic for us. Now people should stop talking we can't produce fast bowlers. He can clock 150 with semi-new ball, we have developed one."
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo