Suryakumar Yadav earns his due

Mumbai batsman Suryakumar, who earned a call-up in the India ‘A’ squad for the Quadrangular series against South Africa ‘A’ and Australia ‘A’, is learning how to stretch his innings in the ODI format.

Suryakumar believes the new role he played, that of an opener in MI, and the constant flow of games since the domestic season, made him a better player.   -  Vivek Bendre

Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav — often seen as the thin line between promise and performance — is no more the impatient and inconsistent character. The transformation from a stylish cameo boy for Kolkata Knight Riders to the steady opener in Mumbai Indians marks his cricket adulthood.

His selection in the India ‘A’ squad for the Quadrangular series comprising South Africa ‘A’ and Australia ‘A’ in August is no surprise.

Suryakumar believes the new role he played, that of an opener in MI, and the constant flow of games since the domestic season, made him a better player.

“Before the IPL season, I worked on my batting thinking how I could go about in the middle-order and also, the lower-order if I had to. I have been playing Ranji Trophy and a lot of four-day cricket for the last three to four years. So it was not difficult for me to adapt to the situation but at the same time, it was a great challenge and responsibility opening the innings for a big team like MI. I took it as an opportunity,” he told Sportstar on Monday.

Before the IPL, the limited-over games in the domestic season and the hyperlocal T20 Mumbai League kept him on his toes. The runs didn’t stop and in the process, he saw further scope for improvement. “The TML helped a lot as it was the same format that of the IPL and the same venue where I would be playing most of my games for MI. I knew the wickets and the ground pretty well. As the tournament progressed, I kept adapting and went on to play my natural game,” he added.

The off-season importance

The 27-year-old never lacked expertise. All he needed was a bit more time to sit back, analyse and back his strengths. “After the IPL got over, I took a month’s break. It is important to have an after-cricket time to relax. I was off cricket completely as our season starts around September, and if you are playing all formats and the IPL, the season ends in May, then we don’t have the time to become fresh and start training again. I started training around June 25. I have started batting and working on skills,” said Suryakumar.

He currently trains at former India pacer Zaheer Khan’s fitness centre, Prosport, in Bandra. To negate the Mumbai monsoon threat, MI offered him to train at the Reliance Corporate Park indoor nets.

Such facilities and rewards help maintain the hunger to play for India.

Amid new chapters, Suryakumar is studying the anchor’s role in one-dayers. “I am trying to learn how to stretch my innings and stay in the middle as long as possible.”

Back in 2012, Suryakumar was almost certain for an India ODI call-up; chances, albeit competition, have widened.

“The ultimate goal is to play for the country but you also have to be realistic in your goals. You need to keep one step at a time. If you aren’t getting opportunities, it means you need to work harder. If it has to come, it will come eventually and thinking too much won’t help,” he said.

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