'Plan was to bowl as many maiden overs as possible' - Umesh Yadav
Of the 103.2 overs India have bowled to West Indies so far in the Antigua Test, 34 have been maidens. Umesh Yadav, who took four wickets in the first innings to help India enforce the follow-on, said bowling maidens has been a central part of their plans for the tour, given the predominance of slow pitches in the Caribbean.
"When we came to the ground and saw the wicket, we realised we won't get wickets where the ball will seam or swing," Umesh said, at the end of the third day's play. "We knew the conditions would be pretty hard, especially because it was going to be hot as well.
"The main thing we planned was to bowl as many maidens as possible, and not give easy boundaries. Whether it's the coach [Anil Kumble] or Virat [Kohli, the captain], the whole team sits and discusses the same thing, that it won't be easy to take 20 wickets, and so it becomes very important to plan. And it can't end there. If it's said in the meeting that we have to bowl maidens, then we have to bowl maidens, because we know we won't take 20 wickets otherwise."
India's bowlers, according to Umesh, made a conscious effort to not relax after their batsmen had piled up 566 in the first innings. "We don't look at it like we have 566," he said. "We look at it like we have only made 350, and the earlier we bowl them out, the better it is for us in the second innings. Our effort was that, if we got them out by the end of today, we would have two more days to bowl them out again."
India went into the Test with three genuine fast bowlers, and five frontline bowlers in all, and Umesh praised the chemistry among them.
"We always give that kind of confidence to each other, always we are pushing [each other]," he said. "Whenever things are a little difficult, we need to push our friend or team-mate a little bit, and lift them. When we see, for example, that [Mohammed] Shami is bowling very well but he's not getting wickets, my job is, I go to him and say, "Shami, you're bowling very well, keep going." Because I know that if someone is bowling well from one end, then it helps the person at the second end, so if we don't plan and bowl as a combination, it becomes difficult for us. Main thing is, you push each other and complement each other, and recognise that, "yeah, it's not my day today [to take wickets], it's your day".
Shami, playing his first Test in over a year-and-a-half after returning from a long-term knee injury, also took four wickets in West Indies' first innings. Umesh said the team never doubted whether Shami would come back successfully.
"There was no doubt about it, because he's a natural bowler. We never thought he'll struggle. If he struggled, it was only until he had recovered from his injury. No one has to tell him, bowl here, bowl like this. He's a smart bowler, he's got everything - outswing, inswing, bouncers."