Welcome to modern-age T20 batting. The Suryakumar Yadav school of madness and mayhem. A template of batting where nothing is impossible. Swirl your bat around like a stick and it will still bring you results.
Every great sportsperson goes through a phase in career where nothing he seems to do goes wrong. It is, as people call, GOD-mode, a period where irrespective of whatever a player does, he is near invincible. Nothing can stop him. For the great Sachin Tendulkar, it was 1998 and 2010; Virat Kohli experienced the same in 2016. In fact, for years, no one personified this term more than Roger Federer, as he would activate a near cheat-code like comeback en route to asserting dominance over his opponents. He did it for years – ask his fiercest rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Even the younger generation felt his wrath. No one was spared.
Cut to 2022, and the mantle has been taken over by Suryakumar Yadav. He is defining GOD-mode in batting, and how? Playing the kind of cricket only AB de Villiers was known to play. On occasions, even better than ABD. Tim Southee was fielding at long-on when Suryakumar took Lockie Ferguson on, walloping him for four boundaries and a six in the 19th over. By the time he once again defied physics to loft the ball over deep point, Suryakumar had already played a scoop, a ramp and a cut in that over itself, all three shots bringing boundaries. You would imagine that even for Suryakumar, this is the limit. But apparently not, that near impossible shot left Southee stunned as he turned back and shrugged his head in disbelief, while Ferguson could be seen ruffling his hair.
Welcome to modern-age T20 batting. The Suryakumar Yadav school of madness and mayhem. A template of batting where nothing is impossible. Swirl your bat around like a stick and it will still bring you results. At least, that is what a No. 3 should do in T20Is, and not score 40 off 40. Terms like ‘form’ and ‘in the zone’ are highly cliched, but watching Suryakumar bat actually makes you wonder if they are true. And if that doesn’t suffice either, replay the celebration between Surya and Hardik Pandya when he reached his hundred. After the long brotherly hug, Surya, with a beaming smile, raised his bat and took a moment before resuming. But in between that five-second gap during acknowledging the crowd and taking back guard, time stood still. Suryakumar has already reached the summit of the T20 rankings; here he was on top of the world.
A placard held by one of the fans during the match summed it up. There are only three things guaranteed in this word – death, taxes and Suryakumar Yadav scoring runs irrespective of the opposition. And as corny as it may sound, Surya has not given any reason to think otherwise. The consistency with which he has piled runs in T20Is this year is jaw dropping. In 30 matches, 1151 runs with nine fifties, two centuries, 105 fours and 67 sixes. The second best is 83 and 43 respectively, which portrays the huge gulf between Surya and the rest. Out of 191, 111 were Surya’s, while the remaining seven combined to put 69. Of the 27 boundaries struck by India, he hit 18. Just one of the many gobsmacking, godly Surya trivias.
“The confidence is always there. Yeah, I have a few runs behind my back but at the same time, there is a very thin line between you getting complacent also, when you’re coming into any game after scoring runs. I think you have got to do all your processes and routines the same way what you have been doing when you have done well. 99 per cent I try to do the same things on match days like, for example, if I have to do a gym session or I have to eat lunch on perfect timing or I have to take a nap for 15-20 minutes. These are small, small routines I try to do on game days,” Suryakumar replied during the press conference while answering a query from speed spot news.
“And when I come to the ground, it feels good and that is my zone. And also, I spend a lot of time with my wife on off days, speak to my parents a lot, the one thing that keeps me grounded always is they don’t talk about the game, we don’t talk about the game at all, and they keep me in a good space. That is the most important thing and I’m happy to stay in that zone for a long time from here on.”
Among all the stunning range of jaw-dropping Suryakumar played at the Bay Oval or even usually plays for that matter, was the flat six he smoked off Southee through the open mid-wicket. The New Zealand quick took pace off but Surya read it almost immediately at the time of release and whipped it over cow corner. At the first glimpse, it was almost as if Hardik Pandya was the one playing it, with that impeccable initial trigger movement of rocking back. In a rarity, the scoop wasn’t Surya’s most eye-catching stroke of the evening.
The frenzy was such that even members from the New Zealand media and support staff couldn’t help but marvel at the genius that was unfolding. Suryakumar creamed inside out sixes off Southee, the lofted thump off pacer Adam Milne and even against the left-arm spin of Mitchell Santner, the one bowler who has always troubled India in the past with his variation of speed. During the T20 World Cup, Nasser Hussain mentioned how left-arm spin could be the one weakness Suryakumar has. Clearly, the former England captain would reconsider trusting the WhatsApp ground he got all his information from.
“I also get amazed after seeing some strokes when I go back to the room. I obviously watch all the highlights every time even if I don’t do well. I do watch the highlights but yes, even I get surprised sometimes after seeing some shots that I played,” Suryakumar added.
The way Suryakumar is going, it is near-impossible for the selectors to ignore him for the ODIs, maybe even Tests. At 32, Suryakumar has at max three more good years ahead of him and with the 50-over World Cup knocking, and amid all the change that might transpire in Indian cricket in the time to come, Suryakumar can remain the one constant. In an ever-evolving game, Surya is tweaking the definition of range with almost every innings, and if in him, the world gets to witness the first 720-degree player (360 is passé), then so be it. GOD-mode Suryakumar is what is best for Indian cricket.