Selfless and stupendous Suryakumar Yadav: A tale of India’s most underrated cricketer (Exclusive)
The Yellow Army, on a tricky track, navigated their way to 131 after 20 overs, thereby offering the Mumbai-based outfit an opportunity to catapult themselves into the final.
Yet, things started turning pear-shaped for the visitors when their captain was sent packing off the second ball of the innings. At that juncture, the MA Chidambaram Stadium, despite not being packed to the brim, had found its raucous voice and boisterously welcomed Suryakumar Yadav to the crease.
The batsman, who had enjoyed a decent season till then, was cast into the eye of the storm at a venue that had been CSK’s fortress. However, in that cauldron of pressure, the Mumbaikar breached the Yellow Army’s proud home record, painting a perfect portrait of grit, determination, skill and above all, tenacity. And, on that sultry evening, the right-hander had proven his worth for the umpteenth time.
In an exclusive chat with Sportskeeda, Suryakumar opened up on the role he was asked to play during that game and of course, throughout the tournament.
The team management had asked me to lay the ideal platform for our big hitters to come in and so I had gone about my job accordingly at the top of the order. Moreover, I clearly enjoyed that role and loved setting the tempo of an innings.
However, the above is in stark contrast to the responsibility entrusted to the batsman during his stint with the Kolkata Knight Riders, where he acted as a lower order dasher and often, took the game away from the opposition in a trice. Recalling his tenure in Kolkata, he remarked that he prior experience with tennis ball cricket helped him out.
For Kolkata, I batted as low as #8 sometimes but that didn’t stop me from expressing myself. I always batted according to the situation and my previous experience of playing tennis ball cricket on wet outfields enabled me to pull off the innovative strokes that I did.
Thus, through the course of the IPL, Suryakumar had strengthened his burgeoning reputation with a string of varied yet extremely effective performances and when quizzed about what role he cherished the most, he chose not to pin point at any particular role.
I personally don’t have any particular preference and I am willing to bat in whatever situation the team wants me to. I am always striving to improve and keep myself in the best possible condition to excel whenever I am called in to bat.
Subsequently, the right-hander has evolved quite a few facets of his game. Most notably, he has developed an uncanny knack of keeping the scoreboard ticking during the middle overs, prioritising efficiency over extravagance, before unfurling the expansive shots towards the end, something that he adapted into his role at the Mumbai Indians.
Mahela Jayawardene really helped my batting as he made me understand the different nuances of batting in different situations. Additionally, him and my skipper, Rohit Sharma have always backed me to play my natural game and that has contributed to me improving as a player. Rohit, has on occasions, sacrificed his batting slot for me to boost my confidence and that distinguishes him as a leader.
Further, Suryakumar talked about how he tries to implement the aforementioned elements when being given the reins of the Mumbai state side, something he thoroughly enjoys, considering he’s a Mumbai lad through and through.
Unfortunately, though, his superlative performances in the IPL and the domestic circuit haven’t been recognised as much as they’ve warranted. To put things into perspective, the batsman averages a shade over 43 in first-class cricket, despite playing on some dubious domestic strips over the years.
More importantly, he has showcased himself to be Mumbai’s crisis man, standing up when the chips are down and elegantly, scripting numerous victories for his side.
Hence, a player with a first-class batting average over 40 combined with his IPL exploits should’ve been knocking at the national team door, at the very least. Yet, rather perplexingly, none of that has come to fruition.
There are certain things (selection or non-selection) in cricket that are not in my control. I rather try to focus on the things I can influence, namely the process and the routine that I follow. If I don’t perform those two parts to perfection, I won’t even figure in conversations of selection to the national team, would I?
However, despite the cricketer keeping himself isolated from such discussions, it’s hard for a neutral fanatic to not delve deeper into his non-inclusion.
Suryakumar possesses a good technique, can rotate the strike extremely well, can gauge the situation, can up the ante when required and most remarkably, play for the team without worrying about personal milestones. Also, he is a spectacular fielder, an aspect that should endear him to the top brass even more.
With any other cricketer, that would’ve been the perfect recipe for a place in the national side, let alone the myriad India A teams that take the field. Moreover, with a World T20 on the horizon and India’s middle-order not particularly covering itself in glory, the batsman should’ve been given a chance to present his case.
Yet, his exclusion is a conundrum that has engulfed Indian cricket over the past few seasons and a question that the selectors have astonishingly always answered in the negative.
Fortunately, though, the sides that the right-hander represents would never endure the aftereffects of such disappointments. Revelling in keeping himself in a bubble that brings the best out of him, Suryakumar, akin to his selfless characteristics, has hardly ever put himself ahead of his team and would continue to do so, till he hangs up his boots.
And, when one’s backs are against the wall, one would rather have the right-hander come out to bat, courtesy his batting repertoire and elite mentality, more so considering not many across the nation can boast of that combination.
Yet, if the selectors continue to somehow overlook him, one would be forgiven to harbour a sinking feeling of what could’ve been.
After all, that would be a travesty of enormous proportions, wouldn’t it?