It is tough to be a fast bowler in the sub-continent. The pitches most often are tailor-made for either batting or spin bowling. But the pacers still toil hard to get the wickets, which in these conditions seem extra special. The rise of India’s Test battery over the past 6 years has led to the team performing well outside the sub-continent. It has also led to some quality support for the Indian spinners, which has seen the team win 11 back-to-back Test series at home, under Virat Kohli’s captaincy. The streak though goes back to 2012-13, when India beat Australia at home and have been on a roll since.
One pacer, who has been in terrific form in India is Umesh Yadav. It’s been a tough couple of years for Umesh as the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami have partnered Ishant Sharma in the longest format away from home. The rise of Mohammed Siraj and Shardul Thakur means Umesh has had to deal with more competition. But the paceman made a grand return to the team in England, where his 6-wicket haul gave India a 2-1 lead in the series in the Oval Test.
Ahead of the Test series against New Zealand, a lot of focus is on the team combination India will play. The way spinners have held sway in home series over the years, playing three spinners looks like a possibility. That leaves space for two pacers in the playing XI, which will be contested between Ishant, Umesh and Siraj.
A close look at the numbers showcase the fact that Umesh Yadav should be India’s go to paceman when playing at home. Since 2018, Umesh’s numbers have been stellar when playing in India.
Umesh has picked up 96 wickets in 28 home Tests and has a strike-rate of 45.7, which is second only to Mohammed Shami, among Indian bowlers who have bowled a minimum of 300 overs.
His numbers are even better from 2018 onwards as he has an astonishing strike-rate of 24.3 in 7 Test matches, which is the best among all bowlers who have at least bowled 100 overs in home conditions.
Umesh’s ability to move the ball both ways at high speed makes him a lethal weapon on Indian pitches, where bowlers mostly rely on getting movement off the pitch. If Umesh is able to give India important breakthroughs with the new ball, then it will lay the perfect platform for spinners to make further inroads in the New Zealand batting line-up.
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