In a "good head space" after an impressive performance in the Indian Premier League, speedster Umesh Yadav is gearing up for the gruelling international season ahead with focus on "single stump training" on the advice of Ashish Nehra.
"We all know the depth of Ashish Nehra's (RCB bowling coach) knowledge when it comes to fast bowling. During this year's IPL, I was able to spend quality time with Ashish paaji. He has given me a lot of technical suggestions during the course of the tournament. Even during IPL, I would pick his brains about the red ball season ahead," Yadav told PTI just after the conclusion of IPL.
"Ashish paaji told me that during the spare time after IPL, I should do single stump bowling to increase my accuracy and consistency. I was told to practise 'single wicket bowling' with both SG Test and Dukes keeping in mind the season ahead. His (Nehra) tip is to put one off-stump and maintain the channel," the 30-year-old Yadav said.
Nehra's advice to Yadav is not surprising as he has always been an advocate of single stump bowling even during his playing days. He would do his single wicket training at the Siri Fort or Sonnet Club nets at Venky's College.
"Since outswinger is my stock delivery, I am trying to land it as close as possible to the off-stump. Nehra tells me that the length that any pacer has to hit with the new ball is same for all kind of tracks (India or foreign). The key to consistency is uncluttered mind. The moment you try too many things, you can mess up. The single stump means that I am only bowling one channel," said Yadav, who had 41 wickets from the last 16 Tests at home.
How much Nehra's influence has been on Yadav was evident when he was asked about the spell against Kings XI Punjab where he got Mayank Agarwal, Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh in an over.
Asked how Yuvraj failed to get his bat down in time to a scorcher from him, Yadav revisited the planning that had gone into the delivery.
"Normally, when I bowl to the left-handers, I used to straightaway come round the wicket. An element of predictability was creeping into my bowling, where the left-handers were expecting incoming deliveries. That's why I came over the wicket to Yuvi paaji and bowled a couple of outgoing deliveries. I was really happy that I could generate that kind of pace," the 'Vidarbha Express' said.
He now often bowls the incoming deliveries but he wants to keep it as a surprise weapon.
"I have realised one thing. Even if you are not consistently bowling inswingers but if you can straighten the deliveries, nothing like it. If I can get the deliveries to straighten after pitching, it can even trouble the best of batsmen."
This year's IPL has been a standout one for Yadav, who got 20 wickets from 14 games and worked up scorching pace in some of his spells.
"Any performer is happy when he successfully executes his plans. I am really happy with my performance in the IPL. It was unfortunate that we could not make it to the play-offs but it was one of my best IPL seasons. Virat had one clear instruction for me. Go for the kill. He told me 'get me the wickets and do not bother about getting hit'. I did as my skipper told me."
"We are five pacers -- Bhuvi, Bumrah, Shami, Ishant and myself. So it's a happy headache for the team management -- the coach and the captain to pick the best amongst us. I am personally in a very good head space after IPL. My job is to be ready and captain and the head coach have their job.
"We are a close-knit group and even when Bhuvi or Jassi do well, I am proud of their achievements. My job is to be battle ready for the season ahead and I am doing just that," concluded Yadav.