Suryakumar Yadav, The Silver Lining in India’s Cloud Capped ‘Sky’ Ahead of T20WC

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When Suryakumar Yadav came to bat at Guwahati’s Barsapara Cricket Stadium on Sunday, October 2, India was already off to a sublime start. After playing a crucial 43-run strike from 37 deliveries, captain Rohit Sharma lost his wicket to Keshav Maharaj in the 10th, leading to the arrival of Yadav.

These two players are not strangers: they have spent their formative years together in Mumbai. In his debut in first class, Yadav participated in the Indian domestic circuit El Clasico: Mumbai vs Delhi. So, at just 19 years old, the situation in which he came to bat was much more precarious than it was on Sunday.

At 94/4, Mumbai relied on two youngsters to stabilize the innings, and they did so effectively. Sharma scored 37 runs, while the star of the show was Yadav, scoring half a century in just his first Ranji Trophy game.

The talent was there for all to see, but the two players’ career charts aren’t exactly the same. Sharma, the unmistakable Next Big Thing turned out to be exactly that, while Yadav spent the entirety of his 20 years playing cricket domestically and in the Indian Premier League.

The Rise

More than 5,000 starts in first-class cricket and more than 3,000 starts in List A cricket attest to Yadav’s effectiveness on the national circuit, but for his worldwide recognition, the Indian Premier League deserves credit.

‘Sky’ was signed by the Mumbai Indians in 2012, but after playing just one game, where he was sacked by Marlon Samuels for a duck, he moved to the Kolkata Knight Riders in 2014. It turned out to be a career-defining move for him. .

Yadav played regularly for the Knights, making 54 appearances during his four-year spell. However, since they had the likes of Robin Uthappa, Manish Pandey and captain Gautam Gambhir to be part of the higher order, Yadav had a very specific role of simply knocking balls out of the park, usually playing as number 7.

The Mumbaikars’ Reunion

Yadav scored only half a century in those four years at KKR and, unsurprisingly, it was a game in which he batted at number three. After being released before the IPL 2018 auction, Suryakumar met with the Indians of Mumbai. This time, however, the leadership of the IM team was not prepared to make the same mistake as six years ago.

In his 2018 IPL opener, where he batted at number four, Sky scored 43 runs on 29 deliveries. Skipper Rohit Sharma knew all about what the hitter could produce, because he had seen it firsthand, and soon enough, he vacated his starting job for Yadav.

It could be argued that the phrase was unnecessarily overused, but in this case, since that match, there has been no turning back for Suryakumar Yadav.

Entering a Different League

He scored 936 runs in the first two seasons of his second spell with MI, but by striving to improve further, Sky improved a very crucial aspect of T20I cricket since IPL 2020: their strike rate. Except for the 2014 season, where his role was specifically as a finisher, he never scored at a strike rate higher than 140 in IPL, but as of IPL 2020, his numbers are: 145.01, 143.43 and 145.67.

Among the Indians who have scored more than 1,000 runs in the IPL since 2020, Yadav has the second highest strike rate (144.74), behind only Sanju Samson, but the latter has a lower average. If we calculate BASRA (Batting Average + Aggregate Strike Rate), Yadav ranks 4th among Indians and 2nd among those making Indian team for T20 World Cup 2022.

International Numbers

Despite scoring 1412 runs between IPL 2018-20, it was only in March 2021 that Suryakumar Yadav got the chance to make his international debut. The first match was uneventful from his perspective: chasing a target of 165, India went over the line with the loss of just three wickets, and the batsman did not get a chance to show the class of him.

Very different was the scenario in his second match. Having lost the previous game, the English bowlers got off to a fantastic start. India could only score 21 runs from the first 21 deliveries, and in delivery 22, Rohit Sharma was sacked by Jofra Archer.

Yadav entered.

The pitcher he was up against, Archer, is one of the deadliest pacemakers in the world today, simply because of his unparalleled combination of pace and accuracy. Archer hit the delivery short, aiming to fool the new batsman and give him a taste of international cricket.


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