Jayant and Suryakumar Yadav - Mumbai's unforeseen heroes

Mumbai Indians’ route to the IPL 2019 final had two unexpected guides — Suryakumar Yadav and Jayant Yadav.

Jayant Yadav celebrates removing Suresh Raina with Suryakumar Yadav.   -  AFP

Suryakumar Yadav is the unsung hero for Mumbai Indians. He is not the bloke you will instantly connect with an Orange Cap but he is hanging in there; scoring the quick 30s, maintaining a healthy strike-rate of 133.22 and an average of 34.08; useful in T20 cricket.

Having cut his teeth in the maidans of Mumbai, Suryakumar learnt the hard way. The IPL franchise of the Maximum City is now paying him in crores. In return, he provides the spark.

Uncapped. Not played for India, but still bats at No. 3 for Mumbai in the IPL. He even opened the batting in the last season scoring 512 runs.

The unbeaten 71 against Chennai Super Kings in the Qualifier I — that took Mumbai to its fifth IPL final —  at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday is a flicker of the talent he is.

Five years ago, this wasn’t Suryakumar’s style of batting. He could be reckless then. Now, he ensures he stays calm and restrained. The 29-year-old was always known for executing shots behind the wicket. He still does it to perfection but has cut down on the elevation. There is no doubt that he is testing his game.

READ | Mumbai outshines Chennai, enters IPL 2019 finals

Mumbai did not have the Rohit Sharma cushion in the crucial rubber. The captain departed in the second ball, which brought Suryakumar out in the PowerPlay on a rank turner. He had a shaky start. The first three boundaries were luck by chance and he was also dropped on 11 by Murali Vijay.

Mumbai lost Quinton de Kock soon. It was reeling at 21/2 when Suryakumar added 80 runs with Ishan Kishan to set the game up for his side.

The fourth boundary was a classy cover-drive off Dwayne Bravo. He had read the pitch by then.

Suryakumar Yadav 71 not out off 54 (4x10) spearheaded Mumbai Indians' run chase.   -  IPL

 

Suryakumar 2.0 spends hours thinking how to stretch his game to be a better one-day player, he had told this publication in an interview.

“I am trying to learn how to stretch my innings and stay in the middle as long as possible.”

And he takes his breaks to fight the fatigue. “After the IPL got over [last year], I took a month’s break. It is important to have an after-cricket time to relax,” he had mentioned.

The mind and body exercise is perhaps working as he had the courage to pull off two helicopter shots [for fours] against leg-spinner Imran Tahir on a turning track. It is a different level of confidence. Mind you, there was a leg-slip in place too.

It was very important for someone in the top three or four to bat till the end. The wicket was slow and turning. Not many players were able to hit the shots in the air. I wanted to play down the ground, pick singles and doubles.

Suryakumar Yadav at the presentation ceremony

 

Suryakumar kept picking runs in singles and twos after Tahir dismissed Ishan Kishan and Krunal Pandya in quick succession.

He carried his bat, hit 10 fours [no sixes] and made good use of the 54 balls he faced. The next time he was dropped, by Shane Watson, he had completed his fifty.

Having seen Suryakumar since his debut Ranji Trophy game for Mumbai in 2010, Rohit said, “Surya plays spin very well. The shots he plays behind the wicket, those are not easy shots. Always knew he was going to come good at some stage. We've got a balanced squad.”

 

- Jayant, the finger-spinner -

Jayant Yadav, who represented India in four Tests and one ODI, is the second addition to Mumbai Indians via transfer. (FILE IMAGE)   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

 

Playing in his second game of the season, off-spinner Jayant offered spin and bounce that fetched him the big wicket of Suresh Raina.

Jayant has a short run-up. The action is similar to a seam bowler throwing cutters but there are revolutions and finger-work behind every release.

He understands the reasons behind his guest appearances. “It is about gearing yourself tactically and execute those plans to the hilt. I played in Chennai as the track offers spin. My match-up was against the lefties and bowling in the PowerPlay. That was a tactical decision,” said Jayant after the six-wicket win against the Super Kings.

“There was adequate spin and turn even when Chennai was bowling. The advantage that we had that we were chasing a run-rate of six or seven. They were batting first.

ALSO READ | Fleming aims to tighten PowerPlay work in Qualifier II

“In the PowerPlay, the batsman can’t get used to you. If he understands what you are trying to do in different balls, he can size you up due to field restrictions. Rohit has been brilliant juggling his bowlers to the best situation, “ he justified the introduction of five bowlers in the first six overs.

“T20 is always evolving, there will be different match-ups in different overs. Every over counts. If I am under the pump in my second consecutive over, it can change situations. As professional cricketers, we need to be up for it,” said Jayant about the one-over spell that got him Raina’s wicket.

As Mumbai waits for its opponent in the final, it will be difficult to gauge if Jayant will fit into the XI in Hyderabad, but Suryakumar is expected to fly helicopters.