Armed with an astonishing array of strokes and the confidence to pull off the impossible in T20 Internationals, Suryakumar Yadav has now set his sights on a Test call-up, saying it is around the corner.
“ Aa raha hain, woh (Test selection) bhi aa raha hain (coming, that is also coming),” a confident Suryakumar said on Sunday after blazing his way to a 51-ball 111 that set up India’s 65-run drubbing of New Zealand in the second T20I.
The world’s number one batter in the shortest format, Suryakumar is also a proven performer in red-ball cricket, having represented Mumbai for years in the domestic circuit.
“When we start playing cricket we start with red ball and I have also played first-class cricket for my Mumbai team. I have a fair idea about the Test format and I enjoy playing that format also. Hopefully, I will get the Test cap soon,” he added at the post-match press conference.
Promoted to number three, the 32-year-old toyed with the Kiwi bowlers to lift India to a challenging 191 for six after New Zealand put the visitor in to bat. In reply, the host was bowled out for 126.
Suryakumar’s recent exploits have forced many to think that he may have entered the India set-up around two to three years late.
He admitted that being overlooked in the past was a bit frustrating. “I always keep going back to my past. When I am in the room, or travelling with my wife, we keep talking how the situation was two-three years ago... what is the situation now, what has changed now from then, we keep discussing that time.
“Obviously, there was a bit of frustration that time but we always tried to see if there was something positive I could take out of that phase. How could I become a better cricketer, how to go one step ahead.
“After that time, I tried to do different things, like eating good food, do quality practice sessions, sleeping on time, so today I am reaping the benefits of all those things I have done then.” There is a feeling now that Suryakumar can’t do anything wrong in a cricket ground, and while some of his strokes also leave him amazed, the cricketer says he never tries to go ahead of the game.
“I also feel amazed seeing some strokes when I go back to my room, watching the highlights. Every time even if I do well or I am not doing well on that day, I do watch the highlights, but yeah, even I get surprised seeing those strokes.
“I never try to go ahead of the game, I never think today I am playing well so I will make ‘x’ number of runs because it is very important to stay in the present.
“If one thinks even for a minute that I am ahead of the game, or I am ahead of the bowlers, planning can go wrong there. So I try to stay in the present, and think about what I am supposed to do at that moment, rather than thinking ahead.” At the Bay Oval on Sunday, Suryakumar smashed boundaries and sixes at will, his last 64 runs coming off just 18 balls. His entertaining innings had 11 fours and seven sixes and his strike rate was an incredible 217.64.
New Zealand bowlers appeared clueless as Suryakumar strung together some extraordinary shots.
Where does he get the confidence from and which zone is he residing in at the moment? “The confidence is always there that, yeah, I have a few runs behind my back. But at the same time, there is a very thin line between you getting a bit complacent also when you are coming into any game after scoring runs.
“I think you have got to follow all your processes and routine in the same way what you have been doing when you have done well.
“So 99 percent of the time I try to do the same things on match days, like for example if I have to do a gym session, I have to eat lunch at the prefect time, I have to take a power nap for 15-20 minutes, so all these things, these are small small routine which I try to do on game days and when I come to the ground I feel good. So that is my zone.”
He added, “I spend a lot of time on my off days with my wife, speak to my parents a lot, the one thing which keeps me grounded always is that they don’t talk about the game, no discussion about the game. That’s the most important thing and I will be really happy to be staying in that zone for a very long time from hereon.” Impressed by Suryakumar’s knock, Virat Kohli said he is sure “this was another video game innings by him.” Coming from Kohli, Suryakumar took it as a compliment and vouched to try to carry on in same vein.
“Recently, we played some games together, had good partnerships, I enjoy batting with him (Kohli). One thing is that I have to run a lot because he is super fit, but, at the same time, when we are inside, we don’t talk a lot about the game, we know we respect each other’s game.
“I only tell him that you keep playing on one side and I will keep batting at the other end. He doesn’t say much, just tells me that keep batting the way you have been doing and enjoy it.” After taking the Kiwi bowlers to the cleaners, Suryakumar just said he kept it “simple” and executed his strokes as per the field placements.
If the spinners pitched it full on off stump, he was happy to play the inside out shot over cover and when the faster bowlers targeted his stumps on good length, he helped the ball sail past fine leg for a bunch of sixes.
“You have got to play the format irrespective of where you are playing. Most important thing is you should be having a game plan in your mind -- what the wicket is like, what are the ground dimensions, how the ball will travel etc..
“All these things you have got to keep in mind and rest you have to do in your practice sessions and when you are sitting in the room.
“You can’t think too much when you are coming into the game, you have to come with a clear mind, positive mindset, with good intent when you are playing the format and then just enjoy yourself.”