Umesh Yadav © Getty Images
Umesh Yadav © Getty Images

Born, October 25, 1987, Umesh Kumar Tilak Yadav is an Indian cricketer, who represents Vidarbha in domestic cricket. Yadav got the ticket to the Indian team quite early as he had only two years’ experience in First-Class cricket, when he was selected for the team and made his debut in 2009. On his 30th birthday, Abhishek Kumar takes out 15 lesser-known facts about man who claims, “I am the first person from Valli to have played with a leather ball.”

1.  Humble background: Umesh comes from a very humble background. His father, who hails from Valli village, was a worker in a coalmine that had 5,000 odd employees. Umesh has two elder brothers and his father never wanted any of his sons to work in coalmine.

2.  Gave up studies after class 12: Umesh is one of those Indian cricketers, who never took studies seriously. After completing his HSC, he gave up studies but not for cricket. He quit studies simply because he had no interest in studying further.

3.  Army: After quitting studies, Yadav’s first aim was to get selected in Indian Army and serve the nation. But he was rejected, as he was destined for something else.

4.  Police: After getting rejected from Army, he tried his hands at becoming a police constable but narrowly missed out on that too. In the physical examination, he scored above 90 out of 100 and in the personal exam; he was not selected because of two points. Like other teenage boys, he too had no clue as to what to do further in his life.

5.  Tennis ball fast bowler: Like other local boys, Yadav also used to play played tennis ball cricket. He was a good fast bowler with tennis balls and once he even got a Man of the Series award; a cash prize of somewhere around Rs 10,000. He also tried to get into a college team on the basis of his performance in local tournaments, but didn’t get any chance as he never represented any club.

6.  Tryst with the red cherry: After getting rejected from college, Army and Police, Yadav signed up for Vidarbha Gymkhana. As he did not have spikes, he was forced to play with a pair of shoes that had studs on their soles. He took three wickets for 37 runs in his 10-over spell. Soon his name became quite famous in Vidarbha region and as the word travelled fast, an official was sent from Vidarbha Cricket Association (VCA) to watch him bowl in a Twenty20 game. Yadav bowled a lot of yorkers in the death and got two-three batsmen bowled.

7.  Ranji call: Soon Yadav was picked by VCA and tested in the semi-finals of inter-district three-day tournament in Amravati. The then Vidarbha captain Pritam Gandhe helped him play for Air India in a T20 tournament in Mumbai. Amidst all this, his father wanted him to get a degree in commerce but he couldn’t as he was busy playing.

After returning from Mumbai, Yadav was among the 30 probables for the Vidarbha Ranji squad. It was Gandhe who wanted Yadav in his team at any cost and got him selected him in his final 15.

The Y’s: Small pool, some brilliant men
The Y’s: Small pool, some brilliant men

8.  Debut Ranji match: There is an interesting story behind his Ranji Debut. Even after getting selected in the final 15, it was quite difficult for Gandhe to play Umesh as the pitch for the opening match of the 2008-09 season against Madhya Pradesh at Indore was perceived to be slow and only two fast bowlers were supposed to play and of course, Yadav was not one of them as he had no experience of playing in the domestic circuit.

But then Gandhe decided to play him at the expense of a batsman. Yadav repaid his captain’s faith and took four wickets for 72 runs in the first innings of the match. Though Vidarbha lost the match but they had found a new gem in Yadav, who became a First-Class cricketer barely a month after he started playing with the leather balls.

9.  Indian Premier League (IPL): Yadav continued to perform well in domestic matches and soon he was bought by Delhi Daredevils for the 2010 season of IPL. From here, Yadav’s life transformed completely. He played seven matches in that season and picked six wickets. In the same year, he earned his international cap.

10.  First Test cricketer from Vidarbha: Yadav made his Test debut in November 2011 against West Indies and became the first player to do so from Vidarbha. It looks like he was destined for this as his domestic team captain Gandhe, who has taken 340 wickets in First-Class cricket, never got this chance.

11.  Yadav can bat too part I: Yadav first showed his batting skills during the first One-Day International (ODI) from the five-match series between India and West Indies in Cuttack in November 2011. In a low-scoring encounter, India were set a target of 212 to win. In reply, India were 9 down for 201 with relatively two newcomers at the crease. Both Varun Aaron, who was playing his third ODI and Yadav, who was playing his seventh ODI, scored unbeaten six and saw India home in a tense finish.  Yadav held on to his nerves and not only displayed his batting skills, but also his cool temperament in the tight chase.

12.  Hailed by many: Yadav’s bowling pace and ability has attracted many former cricket greats. When Zaheer Khan was asked regarding who can take his place in the Indian team in future, without any hesitation he named Yadav. Not only Zaheer, former greats like Gary Sobers and Glenn McGrath are also admirers of Yadav’s bowling. Current pace sensation Dale Steyn, who is considered to be the best fast bowler in the world, is a big fan of Yadav.

13.  Best Indian bowler in ICC World Cup 2015: Yadav did exceptionally well during the ICC World Cup 2015. Initially, he was behind his bowling partner Mohammad Shami on the wickets tally. But later he moved ahead of him. Yadav ended up with 18 wickets at 17.83 apiece in eight matches, the most for India in the World Cup.

14.  Yadav can bat too part II: On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti earlier this month, Yadav showed his batting skills in a Ranji match against Orissa by smashing his maiden century across the formats. He scored unbeaten 128 runs off just 119 balls, which included seven fours and equal number of sixes. It is safe to say that he has decent hands with willow as well.

15.  Wife: Yadav got married in 2013 to a girl named Tanya after a courtship of three years. Tanya is a fashion designer by profession. Both met during an IPL match and she is fond of cricket.