WHAT does a good time in cricket mean?
Ask Suryakumar Yadav. Such has been his purple patch that he can even hit the ball to the boundary or over it with his eyes closed. The Mumbai batsman has been the story of this T20 World Cup so far. Teams can prepare for him, watch his videos, but only he knows when he will bend his knee to play his signature shot behind the wicket.
With such hand-eye coordination at work, bowlers never know when Surya will come down the track and use his wrists to flick the ball over the wicketkeeper’s head.
There have been great cricketers, but not many have played with such conviction. His batting has gone beyond the coaching manual and it seemed only Surya could get himself out, with the bowlers hardly having a say.
On Sunday evening, he slammed a 25-ball 61 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a venue with enormous boundaries. He cleared them four times and six times the ball sailed to the rope for fours.
However, at the nets, Surya is a completely different batsman compared to how he bats in the middle. In front of head coach Rahul Dravid, he will play only copybook shots, rarely trying anything behind the wicket.
His consistency has been India’s big strength Down Under. “It’s incredible. That’s why he is the No. 1 T20 player in the world at the moment, because of that consistency in a format where scoring at a strike rate that he does actually doesn’t – it’s not easy to be consistent with the kind of strike rate he’s going at. So, it’s just fantastic the way he’s playing. I think he’s been very clear in his processes. He’s very clear about his tactics,” Dravid said after Sunday’s game.
A lot of hard work has been done in the nets. Surya has practised at various grounds and goes with a clear mindset about how he wants to bat in a game. He has worked on his fitness and the overall result is Surya 2.0.
Dravid said this version of Surya is different from the one he had seen a couple of years ago. “If I look at Surya from a couple of years ago, just to see how he takes care of his body and the amount of time he spends on his fitness, I think he’s just really earning the reward for a lot of the hard work that he’s put in on and off the field, and long may it continue. I think he’s been absolutely phenomenal for us. He’s just a joy to watch. It’s a pleasure to watch him bat when he’s in that kind of form. Every time it’s like he puts on a show, without a doubt,” the head coach adds.
His genius was on display in two shots he played in the last over against medium pacer Richard Ngarava. On both occasions, the ball was wide of off-stump but Surya magically picked it up for a six behind square.
The MCG had witnessed several greats over the decades but this must have been a unique batting display at the hallowed venue. Surya’s teammate Ravichandran Ashwin is just happy at how it is working to the team’s advantage.
“The way Surya is batting is free-spirited, free will, he is not a spring chicken, he is early in his international career but is able to express himself. The kind of shots he is playing is currently complementing other batsmen in the team. No one will expect that someone will hit a lap sweep or square sweep off a fast bowler. Surya plays such kinds of shots and that is one of the reasons he complements the batters really well,” the off-spinner said.