Mumbai v Vidarbha, Ranji Trophy, Group A, Mumbai November 27, 2013

Umesh to focus on line and length ahead of South Africa


From being touted as the next in line after Zaheer Khan to lead India's pace attack, to being labelled injury prone, Umesh Yadav has seen it all over the past 12 months. As a result, Umesh, who was included in India's Test and ODI squads for the tour to South Africa, isn't thinking too far ahead. Instead, Umesh, who will wear Vidarbha's whites against a formidable Mumbai outfit in the Ranji Trophy from Thursday, is just focused on getting his basics right in the lead up to the much-anticipated tour.

"I am not thinking too much, because thinking too much gets too many thoughts in the mind. Since I have got matches to play before going [to South Africa], I am concentrating on my line and length. That will be my preparation,"Umesh said. "The weather conditions there are different, wickets are different, so my mental preparations will be to focus on an area and bowl - that is on three quarters [of a length] and outside the off-stump. That is what I am focusing on because that is what important in Tests, bowling wicket to wicket is important."

Despite the seamer-friendly conditions in South Africa, Umesh hasn't taken his place in the team for granted. With veteran Zaheer Khan returning to the side, he is likely to be vying with the promising Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and the ever-inconsistent Ishant Sharma, for a spot in the eleven. The spinners, too, he said, would have a role to play in the two Test matches. "Though you don't expect too much turn there, we do have spinners who can turn the ball anywhere. One should look at it from what works best for the team."

During's Umesh's workout at the Wankhede Stadium on the eve of his side's match against Mumbai, he caught up with Mumbai captain Zaheer. The pair was involved in a detailed discussion, while the rest of their team-mates had a net session. "He asked me how I am doing, enquired about my fitness, and also told me to concentrate on my line and length," Umesh said.

With the Mumbai team including quality batsmen like Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane and Abhishek Nayar, this match will be a test for Umesh on a pitch that's likely to assist pacers in patches. It will be ideal preparation for South Africa, he said. "For every fast bowler, match practice is good, so I feel that if I play before going on the tour it will be better for me," he said. "The kind of wicket this is … South Africa also has bouncy wickets, so it would be good preparation and Zak paa [Zaheer] is also playing, so I will get to learn by watching him as well - watching how he bowls, what he is doing with the ball. So it is very important for me."

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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  • Lakshminarayanan on November 28, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    Umesh should be given a chance to play atleast one test match against SA in SA. Unfortunately there are only 2 matches, Dhoni always go with safer side like Zaheer, Shami & Bhuvi in the 1st test. Good chance for Umesh if he performs well in only one practice match else if anyone of these 3 injured or if Bhuvi bowled poorly in 1st test. Then Umesh may get chance in 2nd test.

  • Siddharth on November 28, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    @Vikram Sharma - Completely agree with you. Line & Length can be taught but bowling fast not. He has to focus on bowling fast but then again our skipper himself is fond of line & length bowlers so what should the lad do to get a place in playing 11. Remember likes of mohit sharma, vinay kumar picked ahead of Yadav.

  • MVM on November 28, 2013, 9:36 GMT

    India's starting pace attack for the Ist test is going to be Zak, Shami and Kumar. Umesh might have to sit out in all lieklyhood for the Ist and most likely the whole series unless any of these get injured or get thrashed around the park in the Ist test.

  • Utkarsh on November 28, 2013, 5:48 GMT

    plz god , i beg you! i dont wanna see another 135k guy on the indian team, plz plz

  • Satish Chandar on November 28, 2013, 4:33 GMT

    Short and wide even if bowled at 210 MPH would go for boundary. Did Umesh ever say i reduced pace to bowl line and length? He has natural pace with a strongly built body. Need to develop skill to bowl at threatening line and length consistently in order to get wickets. Pace alone can't do the job unless disciplined. Even Bond Akthar and Lee succeeded because of good line and length at great pace. Pace alone without control will go like Tait, Fidel Edwards..

  • Dummy4 on November 28, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    He could learn from Mitchell Johnson who is currently intimidating the England batsmen with his pace and bounce. Johnson has just regained his old touch. Hope Umesh do the same thing when he travel to SA.

  • Dummy4 on November 27, 2013, 18:50 GMT

    great advice to another genuinely quick bowler - focus on "line & length". Hahaha....and we wonder why we dont have FAST bowlers. What a lovely, encouraging ecosystem we have for fast bowlers - captain, senior pros, coaches all want you to focus on 'wicket to wicket' bowling. Yeah, that will get Kallis & Amla out!

  • Dummy4 on November 27, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    Why only line and length? What about drift and flight. These are important for spinners you know!

  • Dummy4 on November 27, 2013, 18:38 GMT

    umesh yadav u jst have 2 bowl fast..........................for line n length dere r other guys..............

  • Harmon on November 27, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    So is he hinting that he is planning to be the next Munaf Patel? He was the only one we had who looked express. He looked most capable of bowling consistently at 145+but after a few injuries he might have realized that longevity is more imp. I am hoping he does not fall down to 125 kmph. If he can re-train himself to bowl at 135-138 kmph but with finer control over line and length even then he has a bright future. Pure pace troubles not for long while accuracy will fetch you loads of wickets, just look at McGrath & Pollock. He could also go the way Donald went in his final years, bowling well within himself but always having the ability of surprising the batsman with a bit of extra pace every now and then.

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