Without making too much noise, Umesh Yadav has played an integral part in helping Virat Kohlis boys become a dominant force in Test cricket. While pundits have often missed out highlighting his efforts, records stand testimony that Umesh has been Indias best bet on home pitches which literally have nothing for the fast bowlers.
Speaking to IANS, Umesh throws light on how he has kept himself motivated in the lockdown, the lessons he learnt under M.S. Dhoni that he now implements under Kohli, the need to start cricketing action with the Indian Premier League and most importantly, how he will work towards swinging the ball after the ICC implemented the saliva ban keeping an eye on the coronavirus pandemic.
Known to make the old SG ball talk on placid Indian wickets, does the saliva ban worry Umesh? The pacer is confident of finding a way out once he hits the training ground.
“Yes, it will be difficult to suddenly start playing without the saliva. We haven’t started practising yet, once I get on the ground and practice playing without the use of saliva only then I will know how effective it is. With the old ball it’s still okay, but with the new ball, I don’t know how much it will shine minus the saliva.
“As the white ball swings for a less time, so for T20s it’s okay. But the main problem will be when we will play Test matches. If we can’t use saliva then we will have to think of new techniques to make the ball swing. Once practice starts only then we will know how to tackle it,” he pointed.
The players are currently training indoors and Umesh says that at times during the lockdown, he has had phases when he wanted to be lazy and skip the routine. However, he didn’t let his mind get distracted and went on with the schedule.
“Actually, maintaining the workout discipline is difficult during the lockdown. Training is still fine but what is difficult is the action of the athlete like the feel of working out together at the ground. Also when you are at home and you can’t step out, at times you feel very lazy. I even think of taking an off day or cheat on a diet, but this is the most crucial time and we need to avoid the lazy thoughts and push yourself. I give at least 1-2 hrs a day to training without fail,” he pointed.
But will it be easy getting back to the ground after so long and picking up from where he left? The pacer says it will be important to train hard and focus on the muscles as a bowler.
“As a professional whenever you go on the field or on the ground, you always want to give your 100 per cent. But you also need to consider the fact that since lockdown we are not practising the way we used to, nor the activities are happening the same way. So physically it is a bit difficult to do bowling or fielding. Hence, once we are back on the field post the lockdown, we will have to start gradually and work on the muscles,” he explained.
So does that mean he would look at something like the IPL as a perfect launchpad to kickstart the season? Umesh says that he hopes that the league does go ahead as that would give the boys a perfect training ground before playing international cricket.
“Right now I have no idea if the IPL will happen this year or not, but I hope it does. As we haven’t played any matches for a long time now, it is important to play domestic matches before international series starts. As lots of rules have changed now so at least we will have an idea how to take the new rules ahead and how to cope up with them, how to bowl in a particular situation etc. So yes, I want IPL to happen this year,” he said.
Starting off under the leadership of Dhoni in 2011, Umesh has been a part of 46 Tests, 75 ODIs and 7 T20Is. So how different is it under Kohli who is aggressive by nature as compared to someone as cool as Dhoni?
“I started my career under the guidance of Mahi bhai. As people call him, he was surely Captain Cool. I learnt a lot from him which I am using right now under the leadership of Virat. Virat is also a great captain, he is aggressive and because of him the whole team now thinks alike. Our body language, our mindset, everything matches, so yes, it is fun to play under him and we are committed to the team more than ever,” the 32-year-old said.
Finally, a word on the champion bowling unit that India have managed to create over the last couple of years. Umesh says he is proud to be a part of this unit and loves the healthy competition for a place in the team.
“Our bowling attack is quite strong right now and all the bowlers are playing well, so there is surely a healthy competition in the team among the fast bowlers. I see to it that I practise and improve my bowling every day to match up with the competition.
“Due to this pandemic we didn’t play too much cricket this year, but I hope this pandemic gets over very soon and we all get back to our routine life and get back to playing cricket,” he signed off.