Be it pacey Perth or Mumbai’s square turner, Suryakumar Yadav can ace them both. At the T20 Word Cup, he left everyone marveling his game against high pace with a daring 40-ball 68 against South Africa’s express bowlers. In his last two Ranji innings (90 vs Hyderabad and 95 vs Saurashtra), the Mumbai bat has given an exhibition of how to bat on a turning track.
If within two years of international debut, when not even an IPL team captain, you are elevated to India T20 vice-captaincy it means you have performed extraordinarily well.
After getting his India break in his 30s, such has been Yadav’s batting brilliance that he has been named Hardik Pandya’s deputy for next month’s Sri Lanka T20 series.
“Of course, it feels like a dream, I am reaping the fruits of the hard work of so many years. I am really happy the way things are going and will like the patch to continue for as long as possible. The longer I stay in this space, it will be good for me,” he said after showing his game against spin in scoring 95 against Saurashtra at the MCA Sharad Pawar Academy ground on Wednesday.
“I was not expecting it but the way I had performed last season, I can say it is a reward for that. Feeling very good and really looking forward to it.”
It was his father who broke the news to him. “He always sits on social media, keeps tracking what’s happening. He came to know first and forwarded it to me. He wrote a small message too, “do not take any pressure, just enjoy your batting”,” he said.
In 2022, he has ticked every box. He is not only the highest run-getter in T20Is—1,164 runs in 31 matches, 2 centuries and 9 fifties—his strike-rate is a phenomenal 187.43.
For someone seen as India’s key blink in T20s, vice-captaincy will mean additional responsibility. “Responsibility was always there since the time I am playing. The number at which I bat, responsibility and pressure is always there but I have been saying that I always go into the field to enjoy my game. I don’t carry any baggage… the thinking is done in the hotel. At the match, my only focus is to enjoy, express myself.”
It will be the beginning of a new partnership with Hardik Pandya. “Our bond has always been good. We’ve played a lot together for India as well as Mumbai Indians. Our batting numbers are also next to each other. We have a lot of partnerships together so we complement each other. He has been a fantastic leader as you have seen in IPL and also recently when he led India. I really enjoy playing under his captaincy.”
It’s his ability to deliver in any condition that is most impressive as he showed against South Africa fast bowlers at Perth and against Saurashtra’s spinners on a turning track (95 – 107b, 14×4, 1×6).
If the Perth innings was a blinder, he was the skilful operator on Wednesday, keeping close-in fielders waiting with sound defense and attacking by getting on top of the ball. That was until Dharmendrasinh Jadeja took a stunning low catch diving forward at the square-leg fence, denying him what would have been a deserving hundred.
“My plan always is that whatever be the situation, irrespective of the format, runs on board always puts pressure (on the opposition).”
Yadav’s next goal is to break into the Test team. With focus on playing spin in the home Test series against Australia in February-March, doing well on turning tracks will improve the chance for selection. His key to his success is a right game plan, the strokes to play, the bowlers to target. It was on display in how he put the pressure back on the Saurashtra bowlers in the morning.
“We’ve grown up playing on this type of soil, (so) we have an idea how to play on such tracks. After seeing their batting in the first innings, we understood that square of the wicket a lot of runs came, they didn’t get runs in front. My gameplan always is that even if wicket falls, if I can play my percentage shots, I can be successful in that.”