Traditionally , pace bowlers have hunted in pairs. In the Antigua Test, it’s a trio of Indian pacers that is wreaking havoc on hapless West Indies batsmen. It’s been a heartwarming sight for the Indian fan to see three quick bowlers operate and hunt in tandem, a rare sight for Indian cricket.
Ishant Sharma, Mohammad Shami and Umesh Yadav bowled with pace and discipline, maintaining relentless pressure on the Caribbeans, who too were generous with their indiscretion.
Saturday was a profitable day in office for Umesh who returned figures of 18-8-41-4, complementing the early inroads provided by Shami. It was his best Test performance since January 2012, when he took a 593 against Australia in Perth. Since then, Umesh had gone 24 innings and fouranda-half years without a four-for or better.
Thus, the wickets have come at just the right time for Umesh whom Antigua’s own pace legend Andy Roberts had called `India’s first genuine fast bowler.’ Umesh later explained that the success that the Indian pacers were enjoying was a result of meticulous planning and teamwork.
“It’is all about planning. Before the game, we just planned that whenever we go to the field we’ll try to bowl only maiden overs and force errors from the batsman. Our plan was to bowl as many maiden overs as we can and frustrate the batsman, not giving away easy runs and boundaries. We stuck to the plan and got the results.“
Umesh also spoke about the challenge of bowling on a lessthan-helpful surface here.
“Actually , all this had been de cided earlier, but there wasn’t that much in the wicket for fast bowlers. Our effort was to bowl maiden overs but because of the breeze the ball was moving a little more, and on some occasions, it was preventing the ball from reversing.
Accordingly , we were discussing continuously , what field needs to be set, and how we needed to grab any half-chances that came. On a wicket like this, you will have to work hard to take 20 wickets, and it will be a little easier if we can grab the half-chances, otherwise the wicket will only become slower.“
There was a lot of bonhomie between the three fast bowlers on the field. How do you help each other out? “Our chemistry is very good.We always give that confidence to each other. Whenever things are a little difficult, we need to push our teammate a little bit up, and lift them. For example, Shami is bowling very well but he’s not getting wickets, and I go to him and say , `Shami, you’re bowling very well, keep going.’ Because I know that if someone is bowling well from one end, then it helps the person at the second end, so if we don’t plan and bowl as a combination, it becomes difficult for us.“
When asked if the score of 566 put up by India in the first innings helped the bowlers maintain pressure on West indies, Umesh had an interesting take.
“We don’t look at it like we have 566. We look at it like we have only 350, and the earlier we bowl them out, the better it is for us in the second innings. Our effort was that, if we got them out by the end of today (Saturday), we would have two more days to bowl them out again.“