BENGALURU: On Tuesday, Suryakumar Yadav cracked a blistering 44-ball 76 in the 3rd T20I against West Indies to give India a 2-1 lead in the five-match series. In the absence of a regular opener, SKY – as he is fondly called – opened the innings with Rohit Sharma and enthralled one and all by his scintillating stroke-play. Usually, he is a middle-order batsman but willingly lapped up the opportunity when his team needed him to become an opener.
Another remarkable aspect of his innings was the range of his shots. He sliced, drove, cut and pulled with imperious authority and left West Indies bowlers completely puzzled. It marks the evolution of SKY as a batsman. Till a few years ago, his bread and better shots were usually flicks and ramp shots behind square on the leg-side. Though a marauder, his spectrum was limited and bowlers had many options to contain him. That is one of the reasons why despite sterling performances in the domestic circuit and the Indian Premier League, he wasn’t drafted into the Indian team.
But the sprightly batsman worked assiduously on his game and expanded his horizon enormously to become the complete limited-overs batsman. After his rapturous innings against West Indies, he has been pole-vaulted to no.2 position in the ICC’s T20I Players Rankings. With 816 points, he is just 2 points behind Pakistan’s Babar Azam, who at present is leading the table.
Recently in the 3rd T20I against England at Trent Bridge, SKY had walloped a whirlwind 117 off just 55 balls – an innings which included 14 boundaries and 6 sixes. He was India’s lone wolf in the 216-run chase and almost won the match for India.
Since making his T20I debut in March 2021, SKY has scored 648 runs in 22 matches at an average of 38.11. His strike rate has been an impressive 175.60. Among Indian players, only Rohit has scored more runs than him in this period but his average (30.95) and strike-rate 144.27) pale in comparison with SKY. In fact, SKY’s strike rate in the T20I since his debut is the best among the batsmen in the top 10 countries. He has also won 4 Man-of-the-Match awards in this period, the most by any Indian player.
He has racked up one hundred and five fifties in 22 matches and has performed creditably even outside India. Despite batting at various positions during his short T20I career, the 31-year-old still managed to earn his spurs which shows his appreciable adaptability and versatility.
In the IPL 2022 as well, SKY set the tournament ablaze as he blitzed 303 runs in just eight matches at an average of 43.29. In the middle of the tournament, he was ruled out of the remaining matches due to a muscle injury. But the dynamic batsman made a resounding comeback and continued to bat with bristling abandon.
His staggering growth and these numbers are an eloquent testimony of the fact that SKY is arguably the most impactful batter in India’s T20I team at present. There is intense competition among Indian players to secure a place in the squad for the T20 World Cup that is slated to take place later this year. With his consistency, adaptability and impact, SKY will not only be an automatic choice in the playing XI but will also be one of the most important players in the team whose performance will determine India’s fortunes in the marquee tournament.