When Jasprit Bumrah was ruled out of the Test series against South Africa due to a lower back stress fracture, there was hope that a promising and young pacer will be groomed for the Proteas challenge. But the BCCI, as always, disappointed with their illogical and weird selections.
If the World Cup squad selection was not the end-all of atrocious decision-making, the panel led by MSK Prasad outdid themselves by choosing a discarded pacer in Umesh Yadav instead of a promising fast bowler in Navdeep Saini for the Test series.
What ails Umesh Yadav?
Umesh has long lost the trust of the Indian team management. He last played a Test for India in December last year. In fact, he has just played one T20I throughout this year. His inconsistency does not inspire much confidence.
Strangely, he has been chosen despite Virat Kohli’s indifference to Umesh Yadav, who plays alongside the skipper in IPL for RCB. And co-incidentally, Saini too plays for RCB and Kohli has always been vocal about the pacer’s performance. So, Kohli or coach Ravi Shastri has no say in squad selection? Well, that’s a different story.
What has been most irksome with Umesh’s bowling recently is his tendency to leak runs and undo all the pressure and good work done by other bowlers?
When he comes on to bowl in the death in limited-overs cricket, he has been easy fodder for the opposition to finish off the match.
It was a piece of advice from Dale Steyn that saw Umesh helps RCB deny MS Dhoni and escape with a 1-run win in the IPL this year.
In Test cricket, he had just lost all his fizz and line-and-length consistency, which for long ago, was the hallmark of his bowling. He had been just raw pace now, but no control.
On the contrary, BCCI has made a mistake in not choosing Saini for the series and groom another pace bowler, considering India’s lack of fast bowling resources.
With Bumrah out, the pressure will be on Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami to deliver the goods consistently as Umesh can be haywire and unreliable. And if either Ishant or Shami gets injured, then all hell will break loose.
Navdeep Saini would have been a better choice?
Saini could have promised a great package if he had been chosen for the series.
First, he would have been an X-factor in the XI. Most of the South African batsmen, except Faf du Plessis and Quinton de Kock, would not have faced Saini before. Saini could have been the trump card for Kohli, just like how Bumrah was when he made his Test debut in the series in South Africa in 2018.
An unknown commodity always poses a big threat to the opposition. Besides, Saini has raw pace, great control over his line and length and the required variations to trouble top-order batsmen in the longer version of the game.
He has made a confidence debut in the recent T20I series against West Indies where he created a record of bowling a maiden wicket in the last over of the opponent’s innings.
He may have played just 5 T20Is so far. But Bumrah too had played a few limited-overs games before he was handed the Test cap. And see the growth of Bumrah across all formats since being handed the Test debut.
India, probably, missed a trick here by failing to hand Saini a national call-up. Saini has a fairly decent record in First-Class cricket. He has 120 wickets in 43 matches. He was the leading wicket-taker for Delhi in 2017-18 Ranji Trophy and in the 2018-19 Vijay Trophy.
But BCCI played safe and called Umesh for the series. So, much for creativity and taking risks in Indian cricket.