Umeshkumar Tilak Yadav needs no introduction. A right-arm fast bowler who has become a regular presence in the Indian national team (when fit), Yadav has also been playing for Vidarbha at domestic level since 2008 and is the first player from the team to have played Test cricket. He made his one-day international debut against Zimbabwe in May 2010. The following year, in November, Yadav made his Test debut against the West Indies, and there has been no looking back since.
Injuries have frequently brought detours to his career, though, and he’s now making a comeback from injury for what seems like the umpteenth time. He has been selected in the Indian squad for the upcoming South Africa tour, and is raring to start bowling for his country again. In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Umesh spoke about his return to the national team, on the eve of the Ranji trophy match between Mumbai and Vidarbha. Below are the excerpts of the interview:
After a long break from Test cricket you will be returning to the national team, with the Mumbai vs Vidarbha Ranji game serving as the precursor to your comeback. How are the preparations coming along?
The Ranji games are good practice games for me with regard to the fitness and skill aspect. I am hoping to do well here and help my team win. Mumbai is a tough opposition and has some good batsmen. It will be a good match and I am looking forward to it.
Did you hope to get a Test match against the West Indies?
There are things that are decided by the selectors and team management. As a player I hope for my name to be there in the team all the time but that’s not possible. I keep working hard so that whenever I am given the opportunity, I make good use of it.
How would you assess your bowling after rehab, having played a number of matches since then?
Right now I am bowling well and feeling fine. I have already played two Ranji games. I feel like I am getting better and feeling better.
How close would you say you are to bowling the way you did at Ahmedabad (against England)?
Not that close. I have only just started playing after the injury. It takes time to get into the rhythm, but I am feeling much after my rehab. The more I play the quicker will I be able to get into top rhythm. I am keeping a positive frame of mind and am working hard towards reaching that level again.
What are your thoughts about the South Africa tour? Are you doing anything special to prepare for it?
I am not thinking about that too much. I will just focus on my line and length. The conditions will be different there and the wickets too will be different. Mentally I will be ready to bowl at a three-quarter length, around the off stump. I am focused on this aspect. Bowling wicket-to-wicket is very important in Test match cricket.
Are you confident of getting a chance to play a Test match there?
I don’t really know; will keep my fingers crossed. Anything can happen. We have spinners who can extract turn on any wicket. It would be good if I get a chance, but the composition and balance of the team is vital. Everything depends on the conditions of the particular day.
Did you speak to Zaheer Khan in the build-up to Vidarbha’s match against Mumbai?
Yes I met Zak at the Wankhede during our practice session. We met after a long time, actually. He enquired about my fitness and advised me to concentrate on line and length. It’s always good when seniors and experienced persons like him advise you.
So, are you all set for the Ranji games?
For every fast bowler match practice is very important. There will be a lot of bounce on the South African wickets, so this match against Mumbai, on a wicket that will hopefully be helpful to the quicks, will be good preparation.
Best of luck for your match, Umesh!
Thank you very much.