Faiz Fazal has recalled an incident from 2009 when Umesh Yadav and he were picked to play for Central Zone, when the pacer had reached the airport on his brother’s bike. The Vidarbha captain also remembered that Yadav was carrying a suitcase in one hand and his cricket kit on the other.
Umesh Yadav, who has featured in 46 Tests and 74 ODIs so far Team India, made his international debut in the year 2010 and now is a regular in the Test side - at least at home. His Vidarbha captain Faiz Fazal recalled an incident ahead of a 2009 Duleep Trophy game, against South Zone with players like Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman, for which only Yadav and he were selected to play for Central Zone.
Fazal recalled that Yadav had travelled all the way to the airport on his brother’s motorcycle with his cricket kit bag in one hand and a suitcase on the other. This, according to Fazal, showcased the pacer’s utmost determination. And, incidentally, it was not only him but also his aunt, who had come to drop Fazal to the airport, who had pointed out the same. In a chat show ‘Homerun with AV’ with sports commentator Arun Venugopal on his YouTube channel Gethist Creative, Fazal recalled the incident and also admitted that Yadav is the fittest cricketer in the Indian team.
"I think Umesh Yadav is the fittest in the Indian team. That's played a huge role in the advancement of his career. He has also been very hardworking, and he is a humble guy. Believe it or not, in the first year of his Ranji Trophy career, he got picked for the Central Zone side for the Duleep Trophy. Only two of us were picked for the Central Zone side from Vidarbha - Umesh and I,” Fazal recalled.
"I had reached the airport. Poor Umesh was riding pillion on his brother's bike with the kit bag in one hand and a suitcase in another. My aunt, who had come there to drop me, said: 'Look at this poor thing. But you know what? Aise hi log bahut jaldi India khel lete hain (Such hardworking people go on to play for the India team really quickly)' I still remember what she said."
Following that, Fazal further recalled how Yadav was finally slated to play the game after Praveen Kumar pulled out with an illness. Ultimately, fate had favoured Umesh, who bagged a five-wicket haul, that included the wickets of Dravid and Laxman, in that game. The pacer’s speed clocked up to 150kmph, recalled Fazal, in the game that turned out to be career-defining for Yadav.
"And look at how the stars aligned. We had some extraordinary fast bowlers in the Central Zone side, such as Pankaj Singh, Praveen Kumar, and Rudra Pratap Singh, apart from Umesh. We were set to play a tremendous South Zone side that included Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman, and S. Badrinath. Umesh had no chance of playing that game. But, Praveen Kumar took ill and couldn't play the match, so ultimately the only option was to include Umesh. Umesh got a five-for in that game, and he dismissed Dravid, Laxman. He was bowling at a speed of 145-150 kmph. This was a televised game and suddenly there was a lot of chatter about who Umesh Yadav was and how he had suddenly appeared out of nowhere. That was a career defining match for him,” said Fazal.
"I have seen him grow tremendously and he soon went on to play for the country. I am so proud that he has gone on to play for India. But, despite playing so much and achieving what he has, he still remains a humble guy. That's more creditable, I think. Ultimately, you will always be remembered for the person you are."