Umesh Yadav knows he hasn’t done full justice to his ability. For a natural athlete, gifted with a smooth bowling action, he has the ability to come up with brilliant spells but with 164 wickets in 54 Tests, he knows he could’ve… should’ve done better. He is already 35 now, older and wiser.
Looking to make up for lost time, he has focused on being more consistent and his quality was there for all to see on the first day of the second Test against Bangladesh on Thursday. The bowling figures of 15-4-25-4 aptly capture his brilliance as he teamed up with ace spinner R Ashwin, 21.5-3-71-4, to bowl Bangladesh out for 227 runs.
The story of the day, however, was India giving a chance to Jaydev Unadkat for his first Test after his debut 12 years ago in 2010, while leaving out the first Test’s Player-of-the-Match, Kuldeep Yadav. To his credit, the 31-year-old Unadkat played his part well with two key wickets, but it was a bitter pill to swallow for Kuldeep.
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Brilliant in the first Test with an eight-wicket match haul and a valuable 40 with the bat, the left-arm wrist spinner was left to make sense of the baffling call. Coach Rahul Dravid was seen having a long chat with the spinner, who is at a delicate stage of his career. He is trying to work his way back into the team and would have imagined that he had done enough to get another game but India decided to pick a three-pacer, two-spinner combination on a green-tinged surface at Dhaka’s Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium.
Umesh, a senior member of the bowling group, said Kuldeep has to treat it as part of the cricketing journey. “It is part of your journey because it has happened with me also, sometimes you perform and are sitting out because of the team combination that the management decides on. It is good that he came back and performed well,” said Umesh.
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Never mind the circumstances in which he got his chance, no one could begrudge the opportunity given to Unadkat. He has toiled tirelessly on the domestic circuit and has the returns to show for it. For much of the first session, he was India’s most threatening bowler and provided the initial breakthrough by claiming the wicket of opener Zakir Hasan with the total on 39.
The left-armer generated extra bounce thanks to his high release and had Zakir caught off the gloves by KL Rahul at fourth slip. In the second session, when a partnership (48 runs, 77 balls) was developing between Bangladesh’s fourth-wicket pair of Mominul Haque and Mushfiqur Rehman, Unadkat again produced an unplayable ball to get Mushfiqur to nick it behind the stumps. He wasn’t bowling quick but the Saurashtra pacer showed the ability to surprise the batters with clever use of his variations.
Umesh believed that Unadkat earned his place in the side.
“I am very happy for Unadkat, when he made his debut, I was also with the team in South Africa. When he came on to bowl, he was getting the ball to kick off the surface, balls were hitting the batters’ gloves. We know that Unadkat is used to bowling on such tracks in India and he has been doing that for so many years. He can do both, inswing and outswing. We decided to bowl with discipline and test the batter’s patience. We were just waiting for the batters to try something different and go for their shots,” said Umesh.
Unadkat was an ideal foil for Umesh, who was brilliant with the old ball. After taking out dangerman Shakib, first ball after lunch, the Vidarbha pacer combined with Ashwin to make short work of the lower order as Bangladesh lost their last five wickets for 14 runs, collapsing from 213 for five to 227 all out.
“Some balls are kicking up and some are seaming. I just looked to hit the right areas. When Ashwin started, we thought it would turn. But it didn’t, the pace isn’t there for the spinners to turn. The dry grass has made the surface spongy. We were trying to reverse and bowled wicket to wicket. Happy to have gotten it,” said Yadav after the game.
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The Bangladesh innings was held together by their No 3 Mominul, who was making a comeback to the side after being on the sidelines due to indifferent form.
The left-hander looked solid in the middle on his way to a fine 84 (12 fours, one six). The 31-year-old’s performance was a lesson to his teammates on how to build an innings. All the Bangladesh batters, from No 1 to No 7, got starts, but no one was able to carry on. Openers Najmul Shanto and Zakir made 24 and 15 respectively. After hitting a couple of big shots on way to 16, captain Shakib Al Hasan was out off the first ball after lunch. Mushfiqur came in and also got a start before Unadkat nicked him off for 26. Litton Das was positive before being undone by R Ashwin for 25.
Mominul would have certainly enjoyed his contest with Ashwin. The southpaw played some delectable shots, the pick being a clean hit over the long-on boundary when Ashwin tossed it up to move to 81 but the ace offie finally got the prized wicket with a carrom ball that turned sharply. It caught Mominul’s gloves on the way to the keeper..
In the eight overs possible before bad light stopped play, India reached 19 for no loss. Opener KL Rahul survived an LBW decision off Shakib Al Hasan thanks to a successful review but given how the pitch has looked, batting won’t exactly be a walk in the park on Day 2 either.