Suryakumar waiting in the wings of stardom

Anis Sajan/Dubai
Filed on November 2, 2020
Suryakumar Yadav has shown that he has the calmness required under fire as well as the range of shots. — IPL

Suryakumar responded to his omission from the Indian squad in emphatic fashion as he hit a 43-ball 79 against RCB

Team India’s squad for the tour of Australia was announced a few days back and Suryakumar Yadav’s name was excluded from the list, despite impressive performances in the Indian Premier League. Suryakumar responded to his omission from the squad in emphatic fashion as he hit a 43-ball 79 against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore on Wednesday to power his side to a 5-wicket victory.

I was lucky to have witnessed the classic performance of the Mumbai Indians’ swashbuckler Suryakumar against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It was one of the best innings as it was played on a bigger ground. Generally there is a lot of dew at night here, which makes batting easy but on this particular day there was no dew and Suryakumar showed his class in the middle, playing the finest innings of his IPL career, taking on bowlers as deadly and diverse as Dale Steyn and Yuzvendra Chahal with equal ease.

His 79 off 43 balls was more or less the entire story of MI’s chase. It was a chanceless inning and the boundaries hit by Suryakumar were so smooth like he was slicing butter. He didn’t let any amount of sledging from the opposition affect his performance.

He switched to MI in 2018 and began to open the batting with even more success. His average jumped from around 18 in the season before to almost 37 and his strike rate increased too. He finished with 512 runs. 2019 (424 runs) was an even repeat of 2018’s success and this season he looks set to surpass all of his previous performances with 374 runs off 13 matches.

In a dominating, powerful side like MI, it is easy to go under the radar when you are playing with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Pollard and Hardik Pandya. Yet, Suryakumar has made the pivotal No. 3 position his own in this fiery line-up, so much so that Hardik Pandya is hardly getting a bat this season.

He’s done it not just with his fine technique and powerful strokes but by thinking on his feet and outsmarting the bowlers. He has a fearless approach of batting and is flexible in all formats as well as the batting order. He is also a gun fielder and saves crucial runs for his sides and takes some outstanding catches.

For all of India’s T20 batting riches, the finisher’s role remains a weakness — no one of the caliber of MS Dhoni or Yuvraj Singh at their prime has stepped up yet — and this is where Suryakumar could fit in well. Suryakumar has shown that he has the calmness required under fire as well as the range of shots.

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