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Suryakumar Yadav, Mumbai find a way back

Out of sorts middle-order batsman hits 120 off 139, adds 183 with Indulkar to resurrect innings.

Mumbai |
Updated: January 9, 2014 5:23:31 pm
Mumbai's Suryakumar Yadav celebrates after scoring a century against Maharashtra on Day One at the Wankhede Stadium (IE Photo Kevin D'Souza) Mumbai’s Suryakumar Yadav celebrates after scoring a century against Maharashtra on Day One at the Wankhede Stadium (IE Photo Kevin D’Souza)

Suryakumar Yadav shouldered arms to a Samad Fallah delivery that pitched on the fifth stump and looked set to crash into the keeper’s gloves. Yadav, who put in a short stride across his off-stump had his bat raised textbook style, affording passage to the ball. However, the SG Test swerved in at the last minute, striking Yadav just under his thigh-pad. The Mumbai dressing room must have let out a collective sigh of relief, as C Shamsuddin’s finger stayed down.

From then on, it was Yadav all the way. He drove confidently and flicked disdainfully. He collected 18 boundaries in his knock of 120 off 139 balls, briefly giving Mumbai the advantage as they recovered from a first session where they lost their top-three batters, including the man with the most Ranji Trophy runs, Wasim Jaffer, who fell off the last ball before lunch. Mumbai finished Day One of the quarterfinal at 306 for seven with Iqbal Abdullah and Zaheer Khan at the crease.

Later, at the end of the day’s play, Yadav said that it was the close shave with the lbw appeal that had shown him that adhering to the batting textbook on a green and bouncy Wankhede wicket was not the approach he was looking for. Fallah returned after an over and seemed to be employing the same tactic, trying to cut the ball into the right-hander. This time though Yadav was ready. He shifted his weight on to the front foot and drove hard at the ball, the resounding thwack of the ball should have reinforced the belief that seeing the ball and hitting the ball was to be his plan.

Slam-bang style

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It was pretty much the doctrine that he had seemed to follow when he first burst on to the scene back in 2010. Yadav was radically different than most Mumbai batsmen. Instead of grafting for his runs, he relied more on aggressive strokeplay. After a composed 73 on debut in 2010, Yadav gave a glimpse of his slam-bang style, hammering a double hundred off 232 balls against Odisha. That hundred, in which Yadav seemed at home, included big booming drives and vicious cuts. Yadav followed up his double with a ton in the next game and then reinforced his credentials in the Duleep Trophy, scoring a century on debut.

However, the next two seasons saw Yadav losing his way. From wonder-kid he had been reduced to an enigma. Soon he had been reduced from being touted as the next big thing to captaining the junior Mumbai teams.

On Wednesday, when he came out to bat at number five, he had not scored a century in 15 innings. His record for the 2013-14 season showed just two half-centuries and with his side in trouble, it looked as if Yadav was not really the man suited for a rescue mission. But rescue he did, unlike a number of notable Mumbai batsmen who like to grind the opposition to dust, Yadav prefers to blow them away.

Indulkar return

While Yadav was the enforcer, Vinit Indulkar, playing his first Ranji game in three years, showed his fellow batsmen just the way to handle the lively pitch and the bowlers. Indulkar had walked in with Mumbai at a precarious 55 for two, and he left the crease after effecting a flawless rescue-mission in the form of a 183-run stand with Yadav. Indulkar’s knock though full of leaves and blocks was also chequered with flowing cover-drives and powerful whips off his toes.

At tea, Yadav was on 53 off 78 with most of his boundaries coming through flicks and on-drives. After tea, it was a different story as he cut left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar powerfully through point a couple of times before punching Shrikant Mundhe through the covers twice.

Just before tea, Yadav looked to be slipping back into the danger zone, as he stepped out to a Darekar delivery. Ball missed bat but Rohit Motwani, made a hash out of a regulation stumping chance and Yadav was handed a reprieve.

He made full use of the let-off and soon got to his hundred with a delicate dab to the third-man fence and immediately whipped off his helmet, threw down his willow and stood arms spread out, head tilted skywards, drinking in the adulation. Late in the evening, Yadav was dismissed fishing at a Anupam Sanklecha out-swinger but with his team in a relatively comfortable position.

Brief scores: Mumbai 306/7 in 84 overs (S Yadav 120, V Indulkar 82, W Jaffer 44; S Fallah 3/71, A Sanklecha 3/55) vs Maharashtra

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