Umeshkumar Tilak Yadav
October 25, 1987, Nagpur, Maharashtra
Right hand bat
Right arm fast
Less than two seasons after fast bowler Umesh Yadav first played with a leather ball, he was bowling against the likes of Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in the Duleep Trophy. What makes his ascent even more remarkable is that he represents unglamorous Vidarbha in the Plate League of the Ranji Trophy. Yadav is the son of a coal-mine worker and was aiming to become a policeman. He only started considering a career in cricket as a 19-year-old, an age by which the best young Indian cricketers are in the running for a national cap.
As a fast bowler, he has many skills: he regularly bowls at over 140kph, moves the ball both ways, and has a pretty effective bouncer. These qualities helped him take 20 wickets at 14.60 in four games for Vidarbha in his debut season in 2008-09. While he made waves in the domestic scene, Umesh really caught the eye during IPL 2010, where he impressed a much wider audience with his pace for Delhi Daredevils. He finally broke into the big league, when he was flown to the West Indies as a replacement for the injured Praveen Kumar during the World Twenty20 tournament in May 2010, and earned his first call-up to the India Test team for the tour of South Africa in November the same year. He made the Test playing XI for the first time against West Indies in Delhi in November 2011, and picked up nine wickets in his first two Tests, which in turn earned him a place for the Australia tour.
On that tour, a disastrous one for India, Umesh was one of few positives for the side, outbowling his more experienced team-mates to finish with 14 wickets from four Tests and a strike rate of 50.50. More than his figures though, it was his speed and aggression that stood out. However, 2012 was an injury-prone year for him: he picked up a shin injury in Australia, before being ruled out one Test into the England series at the end of the year with back trouble. He returned to international cricket in June 2013 at the Champions Trophy in England, and a fast-bowler starved India would have heaved a collective sigh of relief to notice he had not lost his ability to bowl quick.
After continuing in the ODI circuit, both home and abroad, Umesh was picked for the Australia Tests in 2014 and he followed that up by becoming one of India's frontline bowlers at the 2015 World Cup, finishing as the third-highest wicket-taker with 18 wickets at an average of 17.83.
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