Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders pacer Umesh Yadav has been in the middle of a brilliant run in the Indian Premier League 2014 and credited legendary Pakistan pacer and current KKR bowling coach Wasim Akram for an incredible turn of fortune.
Yadav was not considered for the tours of Bangladesh and England, but his consistency for the Knight Riders would not have gone unnoticed by the selectors, who picked the core of the Indian ODI side for Bangladesh after several players delivered telling performances in the ongoing T20 extravaganza.
Under Akram's wings, an injury-prone Yadav, who has often been guilty of bowling poor lines despite good pace, has rediscovered the magic that promised to propel him to greater heights not long back. And that for now could be more vital than an India call-up.
"I have learnt a lot from him (Akram). Cricket is also a mind game, and at the same time, it is important to remain calm in order to tackle different situations. Among other things, I have also learnt from him how to remain calm and how to plan for batsmen.
"He doesn't get into the technique or try to change your action. He says, 'If you try to do that, then it will be difficult for you. So it is better to maintain what you already have.'" Yadav, who 10 wickets from 11 matches this season, told IPLT20.com.
Yadav has easily been the most lethal pacer for KKR, who also boast of South African Morne Morkel in their ranks. The 26-year-old Vidharba speedster, who played the last of his nine Tests matches in November 2012 and has not appeared in the ODI side since December last year, appeared happy to have got his rhythm back under Akram's watchful eyes. His spell of 3/13 created havoc in the match against the Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday at the Eden Gardens, as KKR successfully defended 163. The figures were Yadav's best for the Knight Riders and earned him his fourth Man-of-the-Match award in the IPL. (Read also: Gambhir Thanks Shah Rukh Khan for Support)
"The way I have bowled, is good for me. I am getting back into my rhythm. I am enjoying bowling; I am swinging the ball, getting the line and length right and also I am able to get the variations," Yadav said.
The three wickets Yadav snared were possibly the biggest in the opposition line-up. He struck with his first ball to remove Virender Sehwag before taking out Glenn Maxwell and then George Bailey. Yadav later revealed how deeply he had planned for each of those crucial scalps. (Read also: Maxwell Fails to Spoil KKR's Party)
"We had thought about getting him (Sehwag) in the beginning, because whatever pressure will be created, will be created by Viru paaji. He is an experienced opening batsman and can score briskly. If he plays out the new ball, it becomes easier for the batsmen coming in later. His was a huge wicket for us.
"Maxwell is a big-hitting batsman and starts to hit from the word go. So, I had decided in my mind that I will not bowl in the areas where they can hit easily. So, I was varying my deliveries. I tried a few things and eventually got his wicket. Facing a few dot-balls and not getting to hit the way he likes frustrated him and that was the reason I got the wicket."
Yadav will be expected to lead KKR's attack in the final in Bangalore on Sunday. If he shakes up the top-order of the opposition, it's half-the-battle won for skipper Gautam Gambhir, who then has two star spinners to fall back on to guide his side to their second IPL title in three years.