But all doubts were put to rest when the well-built pacer, who has been named in both the ODI and Test squads for the South Africa tour, walked on to the Wankhede turf yesterday morning.
He exercised restraint during the nets, but the story may be different when he charges out against the Mumbai openers today. The tour gains greater importance for the 26-year-old as he will be playing a Test match after over a year if he makes it to the playing XI.
“I am gradually finding my rhythm and hopefully I will be at my best by the time we are in South Africa,” said Umesh, after Vidarbha’s practice session.
The Nagpur-based bowler has been plagued by injuries in his short international career this far, but believes he is in the right frame of mind to exploit the conditions in SA.
“Although I have not played a Test after recovering, I have played in the IPL, Champions Trophy, Duleep Trophy, a couple of Ranji games etc. The more I play, the better I will get and that’s something I feel is happening,” he said.
Given the prevailing conditions, India have opted for a pace-heavy team composition. So there will be intense competition for places in the playing XI in SA. But that’s not bothering Umesh.
“I’m not thinking too much. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. My job is to bowl well and leave the rest to the selectors. If I bowl well, I will get my chance,” he said.
So what are the areas he’s focusing on ahead of SA? “Apart from generating pace, we also have to get our length right. I’m trying to land the ball on three-fourths of the length outside the off stump. Let’s see how it works out.”
Vidarbha coach Sairaj Bahutule meanwhile, is happy with Umesh’s pace. “Against Karnataka, he bowled at about 140-143kmph. That’s good pace. I hope he can work up something like that against Mumbai too,” he said.
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