In the most recent times, the game of cricket has become attractive to watch and enjoy. Posting formidable targets and chasing down the same seems to have become the order of the day. Even when the odds were against his team at Trent Bridge — starting at a tall score of 215 – Suryakumar Yadav showed terrific chutzpah to go after the England bowlers. Yadav was class and elegance personified. A keen observer of the game, former India stumper Kiran More, reckons that stroke players can be most dangerous.
While scoring a beautifully carved 55-ball 117 with 14 x 4s and 6 x 6s, Yadav proved the point More highlighted. For five minutes short of one and a half hours, Yadav looked world-class and delivered a knock that did not help his side win, but entertained the full house crowd at Nottingham and kept England anxious till Chris Jordon ensured a win for his team.
On Sony Sports, commentator, Graeme Swann appeared to be mesmerised by Yadav’s six over point and Ajay Jadeja touched upon the Mumbai right-hander’s close-to-the-body wrist work, fundamental to the timing of his shots. Yadav did not win the man of the match award, but the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Yadav is now among the band of batsmen who are providing the thrills and frills that go a long way to appeal to the game’s aficionados. Many batsmen have shown the refreshing readiness to give the money’s worth to the spectators, even in the multi-day Test match cricket played on flannels. The scoring rate has looked up with an England wicket costing 43 plus in the three Tests against New Zealand and one against India. Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root have been in top-flight form.
Clearly, England, down in the dumps in the Ashes series in Australia (losing 0-4), has lit the home international season with sparkling displays in four Test matches. And in the Continental Europe city of Amsterdam, England’s white-ball team came two runs short of touching the 500-run mark in a 50 over international. Cricket, though at the sorry plight of the bowlers, has taken the brighter hue.
All this slam-bang variety across the three formats has been essential because of the ‘license to kill’ freedom approach of the teams, not only in the first six-over power play in the Twenty20, but right through the 120-ball course of an inning. The Twenty20 format has changed the mindset of a batsman, but there has been a handful, who in the last month or so, have introduced new dynamism to their fearless attitude and approach.
The ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup is less than 100 days away and a few Indian batsmen have chosen to steal the thunder from the regulars in the side. Yadav, who is one match short of playing twenty matches for India — but who played in four Twenty20 World Cup matches in the UAE last year – has assured himself of a place in the playing XI for the same ICC event in Australia.
Yadav’s individual drive reflected a calm composure in the third Twenty20 international against England; in particular after the fall of three top-of-the-order batsmen in Rishabh Pant, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli. He explored new ways to outwit the bowlers, frequently targeting the outer ring and over. In short, he made the opponent’s strategy to take wickets and contain, go haywire.
Approaching the end of the second decade, the Twenty20 format has given batsmen the leeway to go hell for leather. The forthcoming World Cup in the Southern Hemisphere may see the entertainment quotient shoot up. Only 72 batsmen have shown the wherewithal and capacity to emerge with three-figure knocks in the Twenty20 format, and eight in World Cup matches. Suresh Raina is the lone Indian on the World Cup list.
Yadav who is the latest addition to the select group of century makers in Twenty20 has played in 19 matches, and in the 17 innings he has got the opportunity to bat, he has proved to be a worthy middle-order scoring 537 runs at 38.36. He has scored four half-centuries; 57 against England at Ahmedabad in March 2021 and thereafter 50 against Sri Lanka at Colombo, 62 against New Zealand at Jaipur, and 65 against the West Indies at Kolkata.
And he has been featured in 17 matches that India has won which works out to a winning percentage of 89.47. And after his debut, he has missed 12 matches and India’s winning percentage in these are a low 41.67.
Yadav became the fifth Indian to score a Twenty20 century, the highest among full member countries. Rohit Sharma (4 x 100s), KL Rahul (2 x 100s), Raina, and Deepak Hooda are the Twenty20 century makers.
The 31-year-old from Mumbai has always been seen as a highly gifted batsman. His two centuries in the 2011-12 Ranji Trophy season, and batting with Rohit Sharma helped him with confidence. He made 200 against Orissa, and 111 against Saurashtra. And In the same season, he made 134 for West Zone against East Zone in the Duleep Trophy. He scored 922 runs in his second season at 70.92 in ten matches. He was made India under 23 captain for the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Teams Cup.
His consistency dipped a bit in the 2013-14 season, but from the following season, he has been the most consistent for Mumbai. He has scored 5326 runs in first-class cricket, 3121 in limited over cricket, and 4760 in Twenty20 (2644 in the IPL). Delivering the goods for thirteen years in the domestic cricket tournaments has finally resulted in his selection for the country. He has played in seven ODIs. What remains is a call-up for Test cricket.
But as of now, Yadav will look to do well and show his creativity in the Twenty20 format, especially in the Asia Cup and World Cup. The England captain Jos Buttler who has seen Yadav in the IPL lavished praise on the Indian batsman’s knock at Trent Bridge saying: “It was some innings from Suryakumar Yadav. It was one of the best hundreds that I’ve seen, and he put us under a lot of pressure.”