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Umesh Yadav marks run-up on road to South Africa

The matches in Kanpur and Mumbai would double up as a dress rehearsal for the three Tests versus the Proteas starting December 17 in Johannesburg

Sayak Banerjee Published 23.11.21, 02:28 AM
Umesh Yadav during a practice match last week at MCA'sBandra Kurla Complex ground.

Umesh Yadav during a practice match last week at MCA'sBandra Kurla Complex ground. PTI

Being a part of the World Test Championship (WTC) second cycle obviously gives the upcoming two-Test series between India and New Zealand its due importance.

But more than just the crucial points to stay among the top two in the WTC standings, for Team India, the matches in Kanpur and Mumbai would also double up as a dress rehearsal for the three Tests in South Africa starting December 17 in Johannesburg, feels senior pacer Umesh Yadav.


“This New Zealand series is very important as we have the South Africa tour next. We have been playing white-ball cricket lately, so before we travel to South Africa, these two Tests will help us first get back to the Test cricket mode and then ensure that we’re on the ball as we get ready for the overseas tour,” Umesh told The Telegraph ahead of the first Test, beginning in Kanpur on Thursday.

“Then of course, these matches will benefit the team in the sense that they’ll keep us in good shape and good mindset as well. If we play well in this series, that will really keep us in good stead for the South Africa Tests,” the 34-year-old said.

A lot of hype over the build-up to the previous South Africa tour back in early 2018 fizzled out quickly after the Virat Kohli-led and Ravi Shastri-coached side lost the

first two Tests of the three-match series. This time around, with Rahul Dravid as the head coach, India will hope to do better.

Also, considering the strength of India’s pace attack that has performed consistently well overseas and with the Proteas’ batting unit being a work in progress, the prospects of a first-ever Test series win in South Africa are indeed greater for Kohli’s team.

“Looking at our team and the combination we have, this definitely is a good chance. We’ve fared well in Australia and also in England. The entire team, I believe, is in a positive frame of mind.

“To win a tough series, you need to keep on playing good cricket, and I believe we’ve been doing that consistently,” Umesh emphasised.

Too long a break

Though he’s pleased with his preparation for the New Zealand Tests, the game time Umesh has had so far has been inadequate. He played only three Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy matches for Vidarbha since The Oval Test, where he played a key role with a match-haul of six wickets in India’s 157-run win over England.

“It was like an extended break for me as I didn’t get any game (for Delhi Capitals) in this year’s IPL. I just practised and trained, and I felt itna

lambaa gap aaccha nahi hai (such a long gap isn’t good) for a fast bowler.

“Match practice is equally important for a fast bowler because your body gets conditioned and adjusts accordingly as you need to stand on the field throughout. Your bowling muscles too are in use, so you need to keep them active and for that purpose, I decided to play a few Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches.

“Those three matches, I believe, have helped me in terms of keeping my body in shape, and helping in better coordination of mind and body,” Umesh pointed out.

Re-assessing strengths

His numbers at home (96 wickets from 28 Tests) are impressive and Umesh acknowledged that the assignments in Kanpur and Mumbai will provide him with an opportunity to re-assess his strengths.

“Kaafi matches maine India mein khele hai (I’ve played many Test matches in India) and my performance too has been quite impressive in these conditions. So yeah, I’ll just be focusing on what I’ve been doing in the previous matches here and concentrating on my rhythm to make the going easier for me.

“The main focus is to make myself better in terms of mindset and my capabilities, as that should boost my confidence level and the better I bowl in these two Tests, brighter will be my prospects,” Umesh signed off.

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