Yadav credits Zaheer for his growth
Hyderabad, Auf 26: Umesh Yadav was picked in the Indian Test team because he could bowl fast consistently – a quality that the connoisseurs of Indian Cricket have been longing to see in their new-ball bowlers but to no avail. However, Yadav was different. A tall, strapping young man, athletically built, agile in the field and who could hurl the cricket ball at over 140 kmph each time. It was a matter of combining nature with nurture and he could be India’s answer to the fearsome fast bowlers that have tormented their batsmen over the years.
While Yadav fits most of the criteria, he falls short in one. He’s just too nice. He smiles more often than a man who bowls at his speed is supposed to. He’s humble, has no brashness about him and he doesn’t see the batsman as his enemy. Yadav believes in honest hard work – no antics, no nonsense.
His simple attitude comes with a strong determination and respect for his colleagues. All these qualities of the 24-year-old shone through during his chat with bcci.tv, after India broke their losing streak in Test cricket in style, with an innings and 115-run victory over New Zealand in Hyderabad.
In the interview, Yadav spoke about the mixed feelings with which he returned from the tour of Australia, revealed the reason behind his superior physical strength and pace and he talked fondly about his friend, philosopher and guide, Zaheer Khan.
How does it feel to be part of a winning team again?
I’m really happy to be part of a winning team. The last two series that we played didn’t go well for us and we were under a lot of pressure ahead of this one. This is a good start to the season and we’ll look to carry on in this vein.
How does your approach to bowling change on a wicket that is so conducive to spin bowling?
The wicket was not turning that much. Our spinners worked really hard for their wickets. But yes, when bowling on such slow and low wickets, we just try to keep pitching the ball on one side of the wicket consistently. That’s what Zaheer bhai and I did – we just kept bowling the same line and our spinners did the rest of the job.
We often see Zaheer having a chat with young fast bowlers in the team. What does he tell you?
This is just the beginning of my career and I take every match as an opportunity to learn something new. That’s where Zaheer Bhai is a big help. For example, when the ball is not doing anything in the air or off the surface, when there’s no reverse swing, it gets difficult as a fast bowler. If you bowl too full, you go for runs and the same happens if you err on the shorter side. That’s when Zaheer Bhai comes in and tells me what the right length to bowl is.
How big a learning curve was the Australia tour?
I was very happy to be going to Australia. It’s a dream of every fast bowler to bowl on Australian wickets. As a team, we didn’t do too well but when I returned home, the only thing I kept in mind was to keep up with the way I bowled there and keep improving on it every day.
You came back from Australia a very improved fast bowler.
Zaheer Bhai was with me on the Australia tour. One thing he has told me – and I’m very thankful to him for that – is that the sooner you learn from your mistakes, the better you’ll get. I always keep that in mind and try not to repeat my mistakes.
What areas did you improve in over there?
I was a natural fast bowler and a very raw one. I hadn’t played much or been coached much. I didn’t know anything much besides bowling fast. Since I started bowling with Zak Bhai, he told me that with my pace, if I can gain a bit of control over the ball, I’ll be a much better bowler and I’ll get many more wickets. That’s what I did in the latter part of the Australia tour – concentrated more on my line and length than earlier. He had ingrained in me the length that I had to hit, and I constantly kept that in mind before every delivery. I’m still working on it and I have a long way to go.
You look like a natural athlete, something that we don’t often see with Indian fast bowlers.
I have always been physically strong and fit. As a kid I used to run a lot, so speed comes naturally to me. The other factor is that I started playing cricket very late. When I started out, there were so many players who had come up the ranks after playing U-16, U-19 and other age group cricket. As a fast bowler, when you’re playing since that young age, you get injured and think of ways to save yourself from injuries. Hence the pace goes down and other changes come about. When I started out, I was already 20-years old. I didn’t play any junior level cricket; started directly with the Ranji Trophy and then got selected for India. And since I haven’t played for long, my body is fresh and strong.
Another thing that separates you from your fast bowling peers is your fielding.
It’s not right to say that Indian fast bowlers are not good fielders. I don’t want to take the credit of being a better fielder than the other Indian bowlers. It’s just that I’m young, fresh and have been blessed with natural athleticism. So, I can do a bit of fielding.
What chemistry do you share with Ishant Sharma?
We don’t talk about who will be selected in the playing XI. In this series, Ishant is coming after recovering from a surgery. If that wasn’t the case, surely he would’ve been the first choice since he is more experienced than me. When I’m playing, he keeps giving me feedback about my bowling if he feels I’m doing something wrong. We share a very good relationship.