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Umesh Yadav's Pace and Fitness Makes Him Top Candidate for Australia Tour, Says Virat Kohli

PTI | Updated: October 15, 2018, 8:58 AM IST

Hyderabad: India captain Virat Kohli says Umesh Yadav's "standout performance" has made the fast bowler a strong candidate for selection in the starting XI when the side travels Down Under, next month.

The four-Test series against Australia will begin in Adelaide on December 6th.

Yadav's 10-wicket haul on a flat track was key in India's 10-wicket win in the second Test against the West Indies.

"I think it was a standout performance in his career and something that he can build on," Kohli said at the post-match press conference.

"Four Tests in Australia can be brutal because the (Kookaburra) ball does not do much like in England. So you have to come in and run in all day and hit the right area with pace. But I think from that point of view, Umesh is right up there to be featuring in Australia," Kohli said.

He further explained: "Because he (Umesh) has got the pace, he has got the fitness levels to run in all day, picks up wickets at crucial times and he gets good bounce as well, so it's a great headache to have. Obviously, all four guys, when they are touching 140 and when they are taking wickets for you, it is obviously something that any captain would like to have.”

What has made Umesh's effort even more special is the fact he didn't have the support of Shardul Thakur, whose debut ended in a heartbreak due to a groin injury. The Vidarbha speedster bowled nearly 39 overs in humid conditions.

"Outstanding effort (by Umesh). I thought with Shardul breaking down very early, to bowl like that in both innings was a great effort on his part. It showed the kind of fitness levels he had, to keep running in and bowl 140 clicks throughout the game and picking wickets and not just completing overs."

Mohammed Shami and Bhuvneshwar Kumar are rated as better talents with more variations but the Indian captain put Umesh in the same league.

"Not many people realise but he is a very, very talented bowler. He can bowl you unplayable deliveries every now and then which we experience in the nets all the time. He will just bowl a ball which you feel you couldn't have done anything else except getting out. He is gaining more confidence about his own game.”

Even though it was his third Test in 2018, Kohli believes that Umesh now "understands" bowling in longest format better than ever.

"He has come a long way. It's a great sign. Bowling is something that we need to keep as a major strength for us in order to feel that we have a chance to win series when we travel away from home as well. I think these guys (Umesh, Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar, Shami and Ishant Sharma) are taking responsibility well.”

An overwhelmed Shastri on Sunday, in one breath, mentioned the names of three legends -- Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Virender Sehwag -- while trying to describe the 18-year-old Shaw who accumulated big runs in his first brush with top-flight international cricket.

"He (Shaw) is born to play cricket. He's been playing since the age of eight in the maidans of Mumbai. You can see all that hard work showing. He's a spectator's delight. There's a bit of Sachin there, a bit of Viru in him and when he walks - there's a bit of Lara as well.If he can keep his head on his shoulders and keep the work ethic, he has a bright future," Shastri said.

Shastri was speaking after India completed a 2-0 series sweep over the West Indies with a 10-wicket victory here. Opener Shaw flayed the Caribbean attack during his 52-ball-70 on the second day of the second Test to give India a flying start, days after hitting a century on debut

Even skipper Virat Kohli gushed about the 18-year-old. "The guy (has) grabbed his chance beautifully. He looks like someone who can get you off to a kind of start you require. Making a mark in the first series that you play, from that point of view, it is great to have a guy who is so fearless. And he is not reckless, he is very confident about his game," he said.

"You might feel that he will nick one now and then but he hardly nicks the ball. That we saw in England as well. He was batting in the nets, really attacking but was in control. But that kind of rare control against new ball is a great thing to have. Any of us weren't even 10 percent of what when he is at 18 or 19," added the captain.

Besides praising Shaw, coach Shastri also lauded the efforts of Umesh Yadav, who returned a match haul of 10 wickets to become only the third Indian pacer to achieve the feat after Kapil Dev and Javagal Srinath.

"It can be a frustrating profession when you sit on the bench like Umesh for 4 Tests. Only 11 can play. He got his opportunity here and I'm very happy for him. It's been done only four times (ten-for for a pacer in India). What this will do is make him believe that he belongs. He can say now that he wants his place. That's given us a headache. He was on target," Shastri said of the pacer.

The coach was also fulsome in his praise for 20-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, while backing K L Rahul to regain his touch. "I think (Rahul) will be fine. He's a world-class player. Sometimes he tries too hard. He works really hard on his game. Pant is another name. He got his opportunity, he grabbed it, now he has consolidated it. About Wriddhiman Saha returning and challenging Pant, he said, "You've got to go on current form."

 Last but not the least, on the triumph, Shastri said, "Lot of positives for us. When we are playing at home it's easy to get complacent and carried away. When you lose one fast bowler (Shardul Thakur went off in the first morning), you have another one who stands up and takes 10 wickets."

First Published: October 15, 2018, 7:55 AM IST
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