When the long wait finally ended, emotions kicked in. Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav, his parents, sister and wife broke down during a video call on Zoom, moments after he was picked in India’s T20 squad against England. “I started crying, they started crying too,” he recollects, his voice calmly gathering excitement.
“Those were tears of joy. We badly wanted to see this day. Poora rewind story hua. (I recalled everything) I could see my mother getting up in the morning at 5.30-6.00, preparing breakfast, packing lunch when I come back from training, then dad dropping me at the ground… everything,” he says, pausing, and then adding: “Everything…” He seemed not recounting the emotions, but recreating them.
After the call, Surya wondered if this was all true. “For a long time, it didn’t register. I still felt it was all a dream,” he says. He fleetingly wondered about the lost years, what he could have done if he were picked five years ago. Then he quickly admonished himself to shun the negative thoughts. “Just focus on what I can do now,” he whispered to himself. Now was not the time to brood, but to live in the dream, which he says, “he does not want to get out of.”
Surya’s story has a gripping coming-of-age narrative of desire and determination. It’s the story of ten thousand small steps that went behind the making of one decisive leap. Hours of sweat, thousands of deliveries in nets, days of intense introspection, moments of realisation, tons of sacrifice, an unceasing streak of self-improvement, and beyond it the will to not lose hope even if it sometimes hung like a thin strand of rope.
“The passion and love for the game kept me going. I knew that if I kept ticking the boxes, I will reach my destination someday,” he says.
He never paused, but kept refining his game and himself. For example, during the lockdown he went on an intense fitness regimen wherein he burned 12 kilos in three months. He controlled his cravings for the chocolate brownie with vanilla ice-cream, his favourite dessert, and biryani his mother makes. “In the first few days of the lockdown, I ate almost everything that I saw, sugar, sweets, carbs, and rice. Then this thought struck me, why not use the lockdown to get my body into shape,” he remembers.
Strict diet, doubling exercise
At times, motivation was difficult to find. “For, we didn’t know when the next game would be or how long we would be in lockdown. Aage ka raasta saaf nahin dikhta tha,” (the path ahead wasn’t clear) he says. The road ahead might have been hazy, but Surya was determined to tread.