It is difficult to be a fast bowler in the subcontinent. Pitches are often prepared for either batting or spin bowling. But pacers still work hard to get wickets, which feels extra special in these conditions. The growth in India’s Test battery over the past 6 years has propelled the team to perform well outside the subcontinent. It has also provided some quality support for the Indian spinners, which has seen the team win 11 consecutive Test series at home under the captaincy of Virat Kohli. The streak, however, goes back to 2012-13, when India beat Australia at home and has been on a roll ever since.
One fast bowler, who has been in great form in India, is Umesh Yadav. It has been a tough two years for Umesh as Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have partnered with Ishant Sharma in the longest format away from home. The rise of Mohammad Siraj and Shardul Thakur has meant Umesh has to deal with more competition. But the pacer made a stellar return to the team in England, where his six-wicket haul took India to a 2-1 lead in the series at the Oval Test.
Ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, a lot of focus is on the team combination that India will play. With the way spinners have dominated the home series over the years, playing three spinners seems a possibility. This leaves room for two fast bowlers in the playing XI, who will face Ishant, Umesh and Siraj.
A close look at the numbers reveals the fact that Umesh Yadav should be known as India’s fast bowler when playing at home. Since 2018, Umesh’s numbers have been stupendous while playing in India.
Umesh has taken 96 wickets in 28 home Tests and has a strike-rate of 45.7, second only to Mohammed Shami among Indian bowlers to bowl at least 300 overs.
His numbers are even better since 2018 as he has an astonishing strike-rate of 24.3 in 7 Tests, which is the best among all bowlers to bowl at least 100 overs in home conditions.
Umesh’s ability to swing the ball both ways at a fast pace makes him a lethal weapon on Indian pitches, where bowlers mostly rely on gaining momentum from the pitch. If Umesh leads India to significant breakthrough with the new ball, it will be a perfect platform for the spinners to move up in New Zealand’s batting order.
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