Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Four charts that show Umesh Yadav is the most reliable India Test fast bowler at home

Right-arm pacer has excellent numbers in India and continued that trend against South Africa in the second Test

Umesh Yadav's record at home is vastly superior to his away numbers. AFP
Umesh Yadav's record at home is vastly superior to his away numbers. AFP

When you think of Indian fast bowlers in Test cricket, Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami come to mind. If you think a little longer, Ishant Sharma is the next name that invariably pops up.

But Umesh Yadav doesn't come up in many conversations surrounding the rise of Indian pace bowling.

There is a valid reason behind it; in away matches where conditions invariably suit fast bowlers more than they do in India, Umesh has just 46 wickets from 17 matches at an average of more than 42. Those are poor numbers by any yardstick, especially for a bowler who is 31 and has been playing international cricket for nine years.

As inexplicable as Umesh's inability to deliver away from home is, his record in India is equally astounding. In 25 Tests at home, Umesh's average falls to less than 28 while his strike rate improves from 60.8 to 51.8 balls per wicket.

In the last three years, the numbers are even more loaded in his favour. While Shami has understandably become the No 1 strike bowler in Indian conditions, it is Umesh who has done the heavy lifting on unforgiving pitches at home.

Just like Shami, Umesh prefers to bowl with the older ball while retaining the ability to strike with the new ball. Robust bowling mechanics allow the Vidarbha pacer to sustain his speeds in the fourth spell as well.

And the numbers don't lie. Umesh has bowled by far the most overs by an Indian fast bowler at home over the last three years.

Not just that, his 51 wickets have come at a respectable average of 27.5 and he also has a 10-wicket match haul.

More than anything, it's his match fitness that has made Umesh the most reliable pacer for Kohli in India. Since the right-arm quick only plays Test cricket, his match fitness for the five-day format is higher than Shami and Bumrah, who play white-ball formats as well.

Umesh generally struggles to control the movement he gets when bowling on helpful conditions away from home. But that weakness becomes his strength at home as he gets just the right amount of swing in the air and off the surface, with his natural full length forcing batsmen to play more often than not.

It's only because of India's fast bowling riches that Umesh has been sidelined earlier than expected. But as his haul of 3-37 in the first-innings of the Pune Test against South Africa show, home his where Umesh's heart is.

Updated: October 12, 2019 04:36 PM

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