The Indian cricket team was handled a blow when Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the T20Is against England. But on the evidence of the first game at Old Trafford in Manchester on Tuesday, his replacement in the starting XI, Umesh Yadav gave a solid account of himself. The experienced seamer showed his prowess in picking key English wickets and turning the tables for Virat Kohli's side.
Umesh picked two wickets that included the crucial scalp of Jason Roy, who was looking dangerous after getting off to a flier. Umesh should be lauded for keeping a calm head and bowling to the plan. He finally got Roy dismissed with an in-swinging length ball. The blow was handed to England. The important factor in his bowling was that an economy rate of just 5.25.
The fast bowler had an excellent Indian Premier League 2018 campaign for Royal Challengers Bangalore and that helped him gain the confidence of the selectors. For Kohli too he was an easy option after having managed him well in the global T20 league this year.
The right-arm pacer has seriously worked to be more consistent and he is a different entity now than that of the past when he used to leak runs a lot. In the IPL too, that was a visible scenario. But this season it was a different ball game altogether. He picked 20 wickets at just 7.86 runs per over. Both the wickets and the economy rate column saw a drastic change and there was a visibility of sheer determination and promise.
He bowled really quick in the IPL and on Tuesday too his pace was notable. This in turn has given Kohli to go for the attack knowing Umesh can start delivering on a consistent basis. Umesh is a captain's bowler and it is essential that Kohli uses him wisely. The Delhi bowler has a chance now to stake a claim in the next two games and give India a useful platform to gain control.
Umesh has always been a handy bowler across all three formats, but of late he wasn't part of the limited-overs squad. Even in Test scenario, he missed out on the starting XI berth. But credit to him for working his way back to the side and making use of the chance.
With Bumrah being a vital cog in the limited-overs format in the last two seasons, it has been a difficult time for Umesh, who wasn't considered even when any other pacer was injured. Bumrah's ability to pick wickets and be accurate with his efforts has bode well for India. But now Umesh has to keep his belief going strong and not worry about selection.
If he manages to fire in consistently, then he could play a prominent role in the ODIs too. Given India play a 5-match Test series in August, they could give an additional rest to Bumrah and get him fired up and ready in the longest format. That's where Umesh comes into play. A successful T20I series can mark a way for being in the line-up in ODIs and take the pressure off Kohli.
He has been bowling towards a single wicket during practice on the advice of Ashish Nehra and that helped him a lot. He needs to enjoy his cricket and at the moment it seems he is not worried by anything else. He played one game against Ireland recently and bowled well against them. Interestingly, this was only his 3rd T20I after having made a return to action after 2012.
His last ODI match for India was in 2017 against Australia, where he played a solitary game in the series. Since then we haven't seen Umesh in limited-overs for the national side. He had an excellent campaign in the 2015 ICC World Cup, and was expected to be a major name. But things quite did not work well for him. Perhaps now it’s his time to finally make amends.