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Could IPL 2020 propel Suryakumar Yadav into the Indian national team?

Suryakumar Yadav has been in terrific IPL form over the past two seasons
Suryakumar Yadav has been in terrific IPL form over the past two seasons
SENIOR ANALYST
Modified 13 Feb 2020, 16:24 IST
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The Mumbai Indians’ victory over Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 2019 Final is bound to stay in the memories of fans across the country for years to come. A brilliant final over from Lasith Malinga saw Mumbai defend a mere 9 runs off it in spite of an in-form and well-settled Shane Watson still being around at the start of it.

The Mumbai Indians’ local hero

One would have to cast their memory back to the first qualifier to begin to understand the role of one Suryakumar Yadav in the Mumbai Indians’ fourth IPL victory. In what should have been a fairly straightforward chase, in spite of a pitch affording sharp turn, Mumbai found themselves falling behind when skipper Rohit Sharma had to walk back to the pavilion after the second ball. Enter Yadav.

On a day when every batsman from Rohit Sharma to Faf du Plessis seemed to be struggling, it was this homegrown Mumbai lad that was hellbent on taking his team home. A stroke-filled 71 off 54 later, the Indians had sealed their spot in the final, when even a usually fiery Ishan Kishan could only muster up a strike rate of around 90. 

Yadav’s role in the MI setup last season did not begin and end there. The second-highest run scorer for his team in IPL 2019, he had outscored the likes of captain Rohit Sharma in the team’s run to the final. 

Also see – ICC Women’s T20 world cup points table

Mumbai’s ‘Captain Fantastic’

Yadav was the third highest run scorer in the 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy
Yadav was the third highest run scorer in the 2019 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy

On the domestic front, the right-hander captains his state side in the longest and shortest formats of the game. While he has contributed immensely to Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy exploits, a closer look at Mumbai’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy matches this year show just exactly what he brings to the side in T20s.

Yadav finished third in the run scoring charts during the tournament with 392 runs in 11 matches at an average of 56, and a strike rate of almost 170. The stylish 29-year-old constantly outshone national team players like Prithvi Shaw, Shivam Dube and Shreyas Iyer, most notably in the game against Karnataka.

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Walking in at number four with his team in a spot of bother, captain Suryakumar Yadav did not disappoint. Taking charge of what should have been a difficult chase at best, the former Kolkata Knight Riders batsman took the Karnataka bowlers to the cleaners making a mockery of the 174-run target set by the defending champions.

His unbeaten 94 off 53 balls made sure that even power hitters in the build of Shivam Dube could not take the spotlight away from Yadav. A nearly flawless innings from the skipper saw Mumbai romp home comfortably, with the win bringing them back into contention for a semi-final berth.

The 2-time IPL winner’s renaissance in the shortest format of the game is there for all to see. While he did play a few handy innings for the Kolkata Knight Riders, Yadav has truly come into his own during his second stint for the Mumbai Indians. 

The swashbuckling right-hander’s most recent spell with Rohit Sharma’s men has yielded 936 runs at an impressive average of 34.67. All that, while striking at over 130 runs every 100 balls. His record in the last two seasons of the IPL alone begs the question: is it time for Suryakumar Yadav to finally don the blue of India?

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Suryakumar Yadav for India: The right fit?

Considering his recent form, the Mumbai batsman will be hopeful of a call-up to the national team
Considering his recent form, the Mumbai batsman will be hopeful of a call-up to the national team

While the number 4 debate is all but settled with Delhi Capitals’ captain and Yadav’s Mumbai teammate, Shreyas Iyer, making the spot his own, nobody has truly staked their claim on the number 5 spot. 

After a string of failures with the bat and gloves from Rishabh Pant coincided with KL Rahul’s rise to wicketkeeping prominence, that number 5 spot seemed to be there for the taking. However, Shivam Dube and Manish Pandey have only flattered to deceive in the New Zealand series, raising further questions about the balance of the Indian line-up. Once again, enter Yadav.

The right-hander’s ability to bat anywhere in the middle-order, or deputise for anyone in the top-order if need be, should hold him in good stead for a national call-up in the near future. In recent years, Yadav has also proven that he can take the attack to the bowlers or drop anchor, as per the need of the hour. All he needs is that opportunity. 

Given the right chances, and the right kind of backing, this middle-aged man, in the cricketing sense of the term, could achieve new heights. For this Mumbai lad, popularly known as Sky, the sky could very well be the limit on the international scene.

Published 12 Feb 2020, 14:05 IST
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