With an Audacious Start, Suryakumar Yadav Announces His Arrival

The plan was always clear – score runs, and plenty of them, and break down the door if the selectors don’t open it!

4 min read
Suryakumar Yadav smashes Jofra Archer for 6 off his first ball in international cricket. 

It took a while but when the time came, Suryakumar Yadav didn’t need a second invitation to show off his wares in Ahmedabad – an audacious pick up shot off Jofra Archer of his first delivery in international cricket landed in the empty stands as the Mumbaikar announced his arrival.

This is not the first time Suryakumar has done something like this against Archer – a six of a reverse-scoop – went flying over Jos Buttler in IPL 2020.

"My plan was very clear when I went into bat," Suryakumar said after the game.

“I've seen him [Archer] in the last two, three seasons in the IPL also. I've watched all of his games in international cricket as well. So whenever a new batsman comes in, what plans he has... Obviously I had my plans as well when I went in to bat. It was a great opportunity for me to bat at No. 3 for India. I knew that he'd come a little short at me so I really wanted to execute that and I was really happy with the way things went."

Along with Archer, Mark Wood, Chris Jordan and Adil Rashid all tried their luck but Suryakumar stuck to his plans – rose to the occasion and took the world number 1 team’s bowlers to the cleaners.

The Mumbaikar raced away to a 28-ball 50 very soon and had laid the platform for the middle order to tee off in the second half of the innings before being dismissed in rather controversial fashion.

Suryakumar, who played fearlessly in his first innings in international cricket displayed the kind of intent Virat Kohli had spoken about and is also the first since S Badrinath in 2011 to make his T20I debut for India at 30 + and he came well prepared.

An Emotional Moment

For the Mumbai man, who had made his first-class debut in 2010, getting the nod for the England series was without doubt an emotional moment.

“For a long time, it didn’t register. I still felt it was all a dream,” he had told the Indian Express after being named in the squad.

It had been a long wait for the stylish batsman, who, like most, had gone through some rather difficult times in his career before turning a corner.

Plenty of intense net sessions, determination, hunger and an immense love for the game kept Suryakumar going along with the constant keenness to continuously improve on his art.

“I saw all my innings of 2018 and 2019, and thought what I could have done better. There were a few strokes that I always loved playing like the cover drive, cut, and the chip over covers. I had all the shots already in my bag but I wanted to polish them properly. So during the lockdown, I used to call a few friends and go to the ground and do a lot of drills. Tell them to throw hundreds or 1000s of balls every day. Slow and steady, by the time IPL came I was ready.”

Along with that, the 30-year-old put in the hard yards when the coronavirus pandemic hit and went into overdrive with regards to his fitness regime. And his determination paid rich dividends as the IPL came around and he was in sparkling form.

“I was not feeling tired batting in high-intensity games, I felt fresher when batting after fielding for 20 overs. The recovery time after running between the wickets was quicker, I could move around faster on the field, and even fielded at point a couple of times.”

Runs and More Runs

Before being added to the India squad, Suryakumar was coming off a brilliant domestic season, as is the expectation from him always.

In IPL 2020, he scored 480 runs from 331 deliveries faced at a strike rate of 145 and in fact in his last three seasons he has scored in excess of 400 every time, crossing 500 runs in 2018.

In the same span, in 29 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy games, he plundered 969 runs at 53.89, striking at around 167 runs per hundred balls. If the doors of selection remained shut, he would barge into the room.

And then while the Indian team was battling it out in Australia getting battered, Suryakumar turned it on yet again back home for Mumbai in the Vijay Hazare Trophy where he finished with 332 runs from 5 games, scoring one century and two fifties on the way.

Suryakumar Yadav gave a stare to RCB skipper Virat Kohli after latter chirped few words at him at the end of 13th over of MI innings.
Suryakumar Yadav gave a stare to RCB skipper Virat Kohli after latter chirped few words at him at the end of 13th over of MI innings.
(Photo: BCCI/IPL)

The Angry Young Man

Of course it was not easy for Suryakumar, who even went through a difficult time like when he was stripped of Mumbai captaincy midway through the last decade.

Incidents of indiscipline and an on-field altercation with Shardul Thakur (2014) had left him in a bad place and in need of guidance felt Chandrakant Pandit.

"He's mentally very tough now, but a few years earlier, I did feel he could have had someone to guide him along the right path," Chandrakant Pandit was quoted as saying ESPNCricinfo.

However, in 2016, Suryakumar transformed himself and worked on his overall improvement and found himself in the Indian huddle in 2021.

He made his first big push towards the India cap in 2018/19, when he amassed 392 runs at a strike rate of 168 in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Suryakumar’s numbers since IPL 2018 are only behind David Warner and Kane Williamson, as he averages 54.54 while striking at 130.

The plan was always clear – score runs, and plenty of them, and break down the door if the selectors don’t open it for you!

On Thursday, he took to international cricket like a fish takes to water giving Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri a happy headache in the lead up to the T20 World Cup later this year in India.

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