Match Analysis

Umesh's spell of pace and fire

Five-and-a-half-years after his Test debut, Umesh Yadav showed he can be the bowler he has always threatened to be: fast, brutal and thoroughly unpleasant to face

Indian fast bowlers have taken 20 or more wickets in a home Test series six times. Ramakant Desai did it against Pakistan in 1960-61, Karsan Ghavri did it against West Indies in 1978-79, and Kapil Dev, being Kapil Dev, did it on four separate occasions.
No Indian fast bowler has taken 20 in a home series in this millennium, for a number of reasons, one being the dominance of their spinners, and another the fact that India do not play six-Test home series anymore. Each of Kapil and Ghavri's 20-plus hauls came in six-Test series.
Since January 1, 2000, therefore, the biggest series haul for an Indian fast bowler at home is 17 wickets. Seventeen, at an average of 23.41 and a strike rate of 45.5.
Umesh Yadav took the 15th, 16th and 17th wickets of his 2016-17 Border-Gavaskar series on Monday. They included the wickets of both of Australia's openers, for single-digit scores, in as hostile a spell of new-ball bowling as any by an Indian fast bowler at home. No, scratch that. Anywhere.
The conditions were anything but typically Indian - this was a firm, bouncy Dharamsala pitch from which the ball routinely carried to the wicketkeeper at shoulder height. There was some swing available, and movement off the cracks veining the surface.
In these conditions, Umesh looked like the bowler he has always threatened to be, while seldom translating it into his on-field displays. This was not the fast, erratic and only sporadically threatening Umesh we have seen on most of his overseas tours, or the fast and stump-to-stump old-ball threat he often is at home.
This was an Umesh who found himself in helpful conditions and went ahead and made use of them to become fast and brutal and thoroughly unpleasant to face.
Watching this Umesh, spectators at the Pavilion Terrace, who had been full of wisecracks when India had batted in the morning - they had broken, for instance, into a chorus of "Nice, Garry!" when Ravindra Jadeja launched Nathan Lyon for a straight six - expressed themselves for the most part in gasps and yelps and applause.
It was that kind of spell.
In his first over, Umesh beat Matt Renshaw's edge with a length ball, and followed up two balls later with a bouncer that left both batsman and wicketkeeper airborne. He began his next over with the wicket of David Warner, who had, in the previous over, been dropped in the slips off Bhuvneshwar Kumar.
No problem, Umesh seemed to say, as he delivered the near-perfect delivery to the left-handed Warner - pitching within the stumps, slanting away, leaving the batsman unsure of which way to move, and giving him no time to make that decision. Warner's hands punched at the ball even as his feet refused to get in line, and Wriddhiman Saha snapped up the edge.
At various points through this series, Umesh hasn't quite known what line to bowl to Steven Smith. No Indian bowler has seemed to know, in fairness. Here, his first ball to Australia's captain pitched on a good length and was homing in on off stump. Smith clipped it away to the square leg boundary. Umesh's next ball was similar, though a little shorter, and Smith tucked it away to fine leg for one.
Over the next six or seven balls he bowled to Smith, Umesh seemed to be achieving that difficult balance between making Smith play and denying him leg-side runs - there were a couple of leaves, a defensive push to mid-on, a bouncer left alone. This could have developed into an interesting battle, had Bhuvneshwar - more accurately Smith himself, dragging a pull onto his stumps - not ended it at the other end.
Still, Umesh to Smith was a small but significant subset of deliveries within the larger set of his new-ball spell. At the same time that he was hurrying and harrying Australia's openers with his pace and bounce and clever mix of lengths, he was bowling in a less overtly attacking way to their No. 3.
Anyone who has watched Umesh can tell you he can bowl good-length spells and short-ball spells; urgent, at-the-batsman spells and patient, fifth-stump spells. He has done all those things at various points in his career, but he has seldom done all of them in the same spell. He was doing that now.
Primarily, though, this was a spell of pace and fire. The spell all of India has waited for since Umesh's debut five-and-a-half years ago. The Pavilion Terrace oohed and aahed and rattled in applause when Renshaw, feet off the ground and head jerked back, evaded a bouncer at the start of Umesh's fifth over. The stand exploded into pure noise after his next ball, another short ball, this one squaring Renshaw up and forcing his hands to jab away from his body, disobeying every tenet of batsmanship ingrained in him.
Body disobeying mind. Genuine pace can make that happen. Umesh has always seemed capable of having this effect on batsmen, and he was having it now - with bouncers, good-length balls, swing, seam, and a whole lot of pace.
At the end of what has felt like a breakthrough series, this felt like a breakthrough spell. A glimpse of what can happen when the flesh-and-blood Umesh and the idea of Umesh, as envisioned by a million Indian fans when he first arrived, fuse into one.

Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo