Minutes before the Tea interval on the 2nd day, Umesh Yadav came to the crease with all guns blazing against the South African bowlers in search of quick runs. Ravindra Jadeja was the 7th wicket of the Indian innings as he was caught behind trying to up the ante after scoring 51. Umesh, who walked in at No.9, took on debutant George Linde by clearing the fence over cow corner to open his account. He followed it with another maximum on the very next ball this time over long-on.
Umesh continued his blitz in the next over bowled by Linde as he smashed him for three more sixes off alternative deliveries. The pacer was successful in clearing the long-on and long-off fielders before hitting one over the bowler’s head. With a straight long-off positioned after his 5th maximum, Yadav tried to play across and was out caught by the wicketkeeper, Heinrich Klaasen. It brought an end to his innings of 31 off 10 balls which came at a strike rate of 310.
Highest batting strike rate in an innings in Test cricket: (Min: 10 balls)
Thus, Umesh Yadav became the first player to have a strike rate of 300+ in a Test inning of 10 or more deliveries. The previous best strike rate was 281.81 for Stephen Fleming who scored an unbeaten 31 from 11 deliveries. Fleming’s knock came on the final day of the 2004 Auckland Test also against South Africa. The hosts were chasing a target of 51 and skipper Fleming ensured they reached it in 10.2 overs. In fact, Umesh also joined a rare list by smashing sixes off the first two balls he faced.
In the 142-year history of Test cricket, there are only two recorded instances of players hitting the first two balls of a Test innings for sixes prior to Yadav. Foffie Williams in the bowling of Jim Laker in 1948 and India’s Sachin Tendulkar against Nathan Lyon in 2013 achieved this feat. Umesh’s innings included five sixes but no fours. This makes it the first-ever Test innings to witness five or more sixes without a four.
Players to hit sixes off first two balls they faced in a Test inning: (Where known)
(Stats as on October 20, 2019)
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