Umesh rocks Kings XI with the short stuff

All-star of the match

Umesh Yadav hasn't been a feature in India's limited-overs sides for some time now. For large parts of this IPL, he has shown why he is an underrated bowler in the shorter formats. Umesh has been one of Royal Challengers Bangalore's unheralded performers, a persevering workhorse in a stuttering season. Sure, there has been the odd thrashing or two, but he has maintained an economy rate of 8.01. Only Yuzvendra Chahal has gone for lesser among RCB's regular bowlers (minimum 20 overs bowled).

The one aspect where Umesh is almost certain not to leave you disappointed is effort. He runs in hard, hits the deck harder, and has the ability to extract something from even the most docile surfaces. Each of those attributes came to the fore against Kings XI Punjab in Indore. At a venue that had an average first-innings total of 190 in IPL 2018 until Monday, Umesh produced a fiery burst of fast bowling to break the back of a powerful Kings XI batting line-up.

He routinely ruffled Kings XI's batsmen with swing, bounce, and pace. Umesh's duel with Chris Gayle particularly was riveting. He swung them into the left-hander, swung some away, while on other occasions, he had him suspecting straight lines. He had Gayle dropped by Parthiv Patel off the second ball he bowled to him, but that only fired him up further. It's not often that you see Gayle being rushed into anything. One ball after the reprieve, Umesh pinged a clueless Gayle under the left shoulder with a brutal short ball.

He continued to hassle the batsman in his next over. The first ball fizzed past the outside edge. With his next, he rushed Gayle for pace and struck him on the thigh. Then, he cramped him with a short one that climbed onto Gayle's ribs, and followed it up with a yorker. It was a tantalising mix of deliveries. Umesh was less successful against KL Rahul, who pulled him for two sixes, but he had the batsman one ball after the second of those, reaping the rewards for persisting with his short-ball attack. Thee balls later, he dismissed Gayle with another short ball before returning and closing out his spell with the wicket of Andrew Tye, who also fell to the same delivery.

The wow moment

Before this game, Rahul and Gayle had been responsible for 50.3% of Kings XI's runs off the bat this season. They threatened to run away with it again on Monday with boundary-laden starts. One ball after seeing a legcutter getting smashed for six by Rahul, Umesh went back to what he does best: banging it in at pace. Rahul instinctively pulled, but with the ball skidding onto him, he didn't have enough time to get in position. The ball sailed flat into the hands of Colin de Grandhomme at deep square leg. Umesh then ended the over by snaffling Gayle in similar fashion. In this instance, it was extra bounce that did the batsman in, a top-edge once again finding deep square leg. It marked the end of a terrific first spell, and set up Kings XI for a meltdown.

The numbers

  • Umesh returned the exact same figures of 4-0-23-3 the first time these two sides met this season, in Bengaluru.

  • Umesh's three wickets on Sunday took him to 17 wickets in IPL 2018. He is now two short of equalling his season-best tally of 19 in 2012.

What they said

"I had been feeling nice all along and want to carry this form into the future as well. In the last few games, I was hit for fours and sixes off a few slow balls, so I just wanted to bowl good lines and lengths and cramp the batsman up. Pace and bounce are my strength and I back that up."
Umesh Yadav