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Except that the two insist their rivalry is just a figment of imagination. Whether it is for a place in the starting XI for Delhi Daredevils or for Team India — both have been named for the upcoming ODI series against England — their destinies seem entwined but not by design. “I know how it came about but all talk about our rivalry is not true, we have never seen each other as rivals in the pace department. In fact, we are best of friends,” says Aaron, hailing from Jamshedpur.
“I know I am sounding diplomatic but trust me, I don’t try to compete with anyone when trying to bowl quick. I just try to get the better of myself. But yes, I do watch Umesh bowling whenever I get to see him. He is a very good friend, we often train together during IPL and hang out together,” he adds.
Having played together during tours for the Emerging Teams, the two are now keen to extend their camaraderie in Team India. And the Irani Cup match starting Saturday is an ideal launch pad for the two to forge a stronger bond on field.
“We are best of friends and I am sure we will form a good pair on the field. We have bowled together during Emerging tours and everytime we have had good results, so hopefully we can carry on the same with Indian team,” says Yadav.
“I was hopeful that Varun will play the last ODI (in England) and kept the television on only to watch him. I was disappointed when he didn’t play. I just love to watch him bowl,” he adds.
Coming from remote locations in East and Central part of India, the two right-arm pacemen delivering in excess of 140+ kmph on a regular basis cannot be more different off the field. On field, too, there are differences. “We are both very different bowlers, who use different lengths to trouble the batsmen. Yes, we both vie to achieve great speed but we are both very different. I think only the batsmen we bowl to can give a proper answer,” explains Yadav.
The Vidarbha pacer agrees that the challenge to bowl quick has to come from within. “I know who I am and I just try to push myself in bowling quicker. At this level, you cannot seek motivation from someone else, you have to motivate yourself. I try to set my own targets,” says Yadav.
“What I really like in Umesh is his down-to-earth attitude and his humility. He’s a great human being, very simple. I am a bit more flamboyant and I guess I have a bigger collection of songs than him,” laughs Aaron. Yadav agrees, but adds: “I can’t match what he listens on his ipod or talk like him, but it’s not fair to say that I don’t listen to party songs.”
Eric Simons, Team India’s bowling coach, says it’s an asset to have the two forming a new combination. “Pace is a natural ability and one will do well not to tamper with it. But having raw pace is not everything at the top level, you need to have line and length to make it more effective. You also need variations to package it well. Both Varun and Umesh are young and have the ability to work hard and I am sure they will form an exciting pair together and have a long way to go,” says Simons.