Umesh Yadav's consistency has been one of the major highlights of India's successful domestic Test season and the pacer gives a lot of credit to newly-appointed bowling coach Bharat Arun who worked on his flaws during his earlier stint with the national team.
“Yes, last season has been one of my best in Test cricket where I showed a lot of consistency. But having shown that level of consistency, I would attribute the success to the efforts I had put in to rectify my mistakes of preceding seasons,” Umesh told PTI during an interview.
“The results showed because I worked on my bowling when I was getting in and out of the team. Bharat Arun sir used to work a lot with me when I wasn't part of the playing XI. When I would be in Nagpur, it would be Subroto Banerjee sir (former India seamer) who would work on my technique. I am indebted to both,” Umesh, who played 12 out of India's 13 Tests, said.
It was also a season, where Umesh got 17 wickets against Australia — highest by an Indian pacer in four Test series.
Known for his out-swingers, Umesh last season also showed that he could bring the deliveries back into right handers more consistently.
“Actually, my natural grip on the seam is one where fingers are locked. That's the grip for outswing deliveries (away going for right-hand batsmen).
“Before this season, I worked on open grip with a slight alteration of my wrist position. This grip has two fold benefit – you can get the delivery back in and also at times get it to straighten after pitching,” Umesh explained.
Umesh is mentally preparing for the upcoming tour of Sri Lanka where Kookaburra balls will be used for Tests instead of the 'SG Test' balls used for matches in India.
“Kookaburra balls on flat decks can be a challenge after the ball gets semi-old (25 overs). The best chance to get quick wickets with red kookaburra is the first 15 overs when the seam remains pronounced. Once the seam flattens out, it would be a challenge for the fast bowlers,” he admitted.
So what will be his strategy if he is given an imaginary situation of Sri Lanka batting at 250 for four after 65 overs and he is brought for his second or third spell.
“It depends but with old Kookaburra, you have to mix it up. If reverse swing happens, then that's a major help but if there's no reverse then one needs to think out of the box. I might try to bowl cross seam to get some extra bounce. A couple of bouncers followed by yorkers may be of great help,” he stated.
Playing 12 Tests in a single season has been a testimony to his fitness standard — something he has achieved due to strong lower body.
“I have done a lot of power training to strengthen my core which is an absolute must for a fast bowler. I have very strong hamstrings which has helped me bowl long spells.
“The stronger your legs are, the faster you can bowl. I would also like to thank our trainer Shankar Basu, who has helped me maintain fitness of highest standard,” Umesh said.
While he has become a certainty in the Test XI, Umesh is still the third choice seamer after Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah in the shorter versions.
“Well, I am not really worried about all these things because team management has a specific plan in mind. Last season, I played a lot of Test matches while Bhuvi and Jasprit played lot more ODIs. I am happy because I played a lot of international matches last season with a fair bit of success,” the Vidarbha Express said.
On-field aggression is a trait which is genrally associated with a fast bowler, but Umesh is a complete contrast.
“I believe that my aggression should be completely channelised in the delivery that I bowl rather than my body language. I have never believed in sledging the opposition batsmen. My delivery should be good enough to intimidate them,” Umesh said.