Despite performing consistently well in red-ball cricket at home, speedster Umesh Yadav didn’t get a decent run away from home. In 12 Tests outside Asia during the last season, Yadav featured in only two Tests. But he didn’t lose heart and turned up for Vidarbha in the Ranji Trophy 2018-19 season.
Umesh, who recorded the match-figures of 9/113 in the quarterfinal against Uttarakhand, returned with 12/79 in the semi-final to push Vidarbha into the summit stage of the tournament. Although he claimed only two wickets in the final against Saurashtra, Vidarbha successfully defended their Ranji title with a convincing 78-run victory.
Reflecting on the biggest domestic triumph, Umesh, in an exclusive interview with Hindustan Times, said that the victory feels all the more special because he missed playing in the final of last season.
“Generally when you return from playing for the national team and then play domestic cricket, motivation can be an issue. But for me, it was always on my mind that last time even though I played in the semi-final, I couldn’t play the final as I had to leave for the tour of South Africa,” Umesh Yadav said.
“But when you perform well in two knockout matches and then the team reaches the final and you get to lift the trophy, all the hardwork feels worth it. It really pays off and it becomes a proud moment. I can now say I have won the Ranji Trophy for my state team. To win the championship is like going all the way back down memory lane and thoughts of how I started for this team in the domestic level and the rise through the ranks all comes back,” he added.
Winning the Test series in Australia and following it with a successful Ranji campaign, the last few months have been a dream come true for Umesh.
“Definitely, the other members of the team had managed to achieve the feat last time round while I had to wait for a year. To win the historic series in Australia and to then come back and win the Ranji Trophy is like a dream come true. It is like ticking the goals. Looks like the journey is going well and the World Cup is round the corner, so fingers crossed for that as well. After all, that will be the biggest moment if we can win the showpiece event,” he remarked.
For someone who was known as an outright fast bowler, Umesh has been seen as India’s go-to-man in tough conditions at home. The fast bowler credited his friends and coach for his evolution in recent times.
“See, when you are playing for the country, you cannot try too many things and working on different areas of the game is something that you do during the off-season. The academy I go to where I work with Subbu Sir, that has definitely helped. He has always backed me and has kept telling me that I have the ability to rise to the next level. He has always made me focus on the areas I need to work on.
“Also, my friends have always given me confidence and made me look at positive things in life. When you are down or going through a lean phase, you need your friends to cheer you up and show you the way forward. I have been lucky to have friends I can fall back on,” he signed off.