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All star of the match

Rejuvenated Umesh breathes fire

The quick struck three times in his second over with his pace and bounce to set up Royal Challengers Bangalore's first win of the season

Shashank Kishore
Shashank Kishore
13-Apr-2018

All-star of the match

Umesh Yadav's stocks have plummeted quite alarmingly over the last year. From playing more matches and bowling more overs than any other Indian fast bowler during the course of the 2016-17 season, he was deemed surplus to requirements in the shortest formats in the following season. Even on the Test tour of South Africa earlier this year, Jasprit Bumrah, who hadn't played first-class cricket for a year, was preferred to him.
Even when some of the first-choice bowlers were rested for the T20I tri-series that followed in Sri Lanka, Umesh didn't find a place. He returned to Nagpur, trained with his first-class side and was among the first few to arrive at RCB's training camp, much before his captain or some of the other foreign players arrived, and he's now bowling like a man rejuvenated.
Against Kolkata Knight Riders, he regularly clocked over 140 clicks and consistently beat batsmen for pace. His wicket of the belligerent Sunil Narine after he had blasted the spinners in a stunning Powerplay assault helped RCB pull things back. On a Chinnaswamy pitch, which was quicker than the ones used in 2017, he proved lethal. His short of length deliveries in particular had the ball rising awkwardly on the batsmen. It's this factor that may have played on Yuvraj Singh's mind as his feet were glued to an inducker that flattened his middle stump.
Virat Kohli likes having pace in his bowling attack, but has been quite critical of Umesh's consistency in the past. So far in IPL 2018, he's had little to worry about with Umesh spearheading their pace attack.

The wow moment

His three wickets in his second over, the fourth of the match, turned the game after a pulsating Kings XI start. He snuffed out Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch off the first two deliveries to put the pressure right back. While Yuvraj Singh averted a hat-trick, Umesh wasn't done yet. He charged in to deliver a short ball that Yuvraj pulled to deep square to get off the mark. Now, was Yuvraj expecting another short ball? His instincts suggested so as he was rooted to the crease and was late to defend the next delivery that cut back in to sneak through his defense and flatten the middle stump. The damage had already been done.

The numbers

  • Umesh has taken six three-wicket hauls against Kings XI in the IPL. Against all other sides combined, he has taken five three-wicket hauls
  • Umesh has picked up 13 wickets in his last four outings at Chinnaswamy Stadium.
  • Umesh has now dismissed Yuvraj Singh four times in 36 deliveries at the IPL.

What they said

"I've been trying too many variations, so was giving away too many runs. Here, I wanted to keep it simple. That's what Ashish Nehra and Virat Kohli told me. They said 'attack the stumps, bowl fast and don't bowl too much about variations.' I tried my best to bowl the hard lengths and bowl into the wicket."
Umesh Yadav deconstructs his improvements as a bowler

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo