Suryakumar Yadav: the batsman who hooked Jofra Archer for a first-ball sixer in international cricket on a spicy pitch in Ahmedabad; the batsman who smashed T20I hundreds in England, New Zealand, and India; the batsman who plundered scintillating knocks in the UAE and Australia.
He’s also the same batsman who showcased terrific temperament on a turning track in Ranchi in the first T20I against New Zealand. Suryakumar Yadav enjoys bashing the bowlers, be they spinners or pacers.
Suryakumar Yadav is not a blind slogger. In fact, he is anything but.
The way he showed great respect to the spinners who were getting purchase from the Ranchi surface was commendable, despite knowing there was a big target to chase, and then successfully cashed in on others who weren’t.
Suryakumar Yadav played out a maiden. Suryakumar Yadav played out a maiden that was the last over of the powerplay. Suryakumar Yadav played out a maiden from a spinner (Mitchell Santner). There is a great chance you have never heard of these three sentences regarding Suryakumar in T20 cricket.
But this happened in Ranchi on Friday. India had lost their top three for only 15 runs in a chase of 177 on a treacherous pitch, which both the captains and the commentators had said looked good for batting ahead of the game, but then, from the third over, it showed its true colors: Spin.
Realizing the nature of the surface, Suryakumar Yadav decided not to take any risks against Santner—but for one, when on the first ball of the 6th over, he tried and failed in an attempt for a reverse sweep. After that, cautiously, Suryakumar played down the over. He tried to nudge it around for a single, and tried to find gaps, but wasn’t able to.
Suryakumar Yadav was 19(18) after 8 overs in India’s innings. But he got his motor and scoreboard running swiftly after that. Yadav man-marked and then took down Ish Sodhi for a couple of boundaries before thrashing pacer Blair Tickner for two more fours.
Facing Santner again, Suryakumar Yadav played three more dots before taking a single. He then launched Sodhi for a stunning maximum over cover, when Sodhi again erred in length. However, Yadav missed his fifty—out for 47 (34)—when he timed a chip a bit too well off Sodhi’s harmless delivery and was caught down at long-on.
That chip timed too well was also an indicator that Suryakumar Yadav has been batting on a different level than all of his teammates. The top three were dismissed for single-digit scores, while Pandya scored 21 off 20.
As has been said a number of times in these pages: since Virat Kohli, there hasn’t been a better batsman deserving of the numero uno spot in the ICC men’s T20I batsman ranking than Suryakumar Yadav.