Mumbai Indians (MI) is the most successful team in the history of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020. It is also a team full of superstars - on and off the field. Skipper Rohit Sharma is one of the premier limited overs’ batsman in the world, Quinton De Kock amongst the contemporary best 5 in all formats, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya the two most destructive batsmen in world cricket, Jasprit Bumrah one of the best fast bowlers in international cricket…the list goes on and on.
Amongst all the high profile players, the performances of one batsman, batting for them at the crucial number 3 position in IPL 2020, doing the job day in and day out, year after year, are often forgotten.
Suryakumar Yadav scored almost 48% of MI’s runs in the chase against RCB guiding them home with 5 wickets and 5 balls to spare. Batting at number 3, he demonstrated two unique qualities - initially, when the going was tough, of an anchor and then once his eye was in, of a strokeplayer and aggressor.
Suryakumar came out to bat at 37 for 1 in the 6th over at the fall of Quinton de Kock’s wicket - MI’s highest scorer of the season. With Rohit Sharma not in the playing XI, it was up to Suryakumar to play the role of the accumulator. The need only got accentuated with the fall of Ishan Kishan’s wicket with the score at 52 in the 8th over. Suryakumar did not take any risks till half way into the MI innings. He wanted MI to have wickets in hand in the second half. Suryakumar the Anchor - 22 runs off 19 deliveries. The required rate was above 10 but MI had 7 wickets in hand.
Suryakumar 2.0 - the Aggressor - Abreast of the asking rate, Suryakumar launched Chahal for a six before turning the match on its head hitting the great Steyn for three fours in the 13th over - his international record aside, Steyn is also amongst the most restrictive bowlers in IPL history with an economy rate of 6.91. Now there was no looking back and Suryakumar - the strokeplayer was on full show. He remained unbeaten on a fine 79 off just 43 deliveries hammering 10 fours and 3 sixes and had scored 57 off just 24 deliveries at a strike rate of 237.5 in the new avatar. MI went to the top of the table and almost guaranteed themselves a playoff berth.
Suryakumar has played a leading role in two other victories for MI in IPL 2020 - his 32-ball 53 helped MI chase down the 163-run target set by the Capitals in Abu Dhabi. He had earlier recorded a match-winning knock of 79 off just 47 deliveries top-scoring for MI as they piled on 193 for 4 against RR, again in Abu Dhabi.
Suryakumar is MI’s second-highest run-getter in the tournament. He has aggregated 362 runs in 11 innings at an average of 40.22 and strike rate of 155.36. Just for perspective, MI’s leading run-getter this season, De Kock, has scored at a rate of 140. Suryakumar was MI’s second-highest run-getter in IPL 2019 too (again after De Kock) where he aggregated 424 runs in 15 innings and highest run-getter in 2018 scoring 512 runs in 14 innings. This means that Suryakumar has scored more runs for MI in the last three seasons, individually and combined, than Rohit Sharma!
In fact, he is the highest run-getter for MI in the IPL since 2018.
Suryakumar had a strike rate of 133.33 in 2018 and 130.86 in 2019. His strike rate in 2020 is 155.36 indicating that he has added another facet to his game - to score big runs at a rapid rate for MI! Versatility is another quality of his batting. While he has batted at number 3 in IPL 2020 and IPL 2019, he was hugely successful as an opener in IPL 2018.
MI’s Mr Consistent, Suryakumar Yadav, was unlucky to have missed out on a ticket to Australia. He was not a part of either the T20I or the ODI teams selected for the tour Down Under which starts end November. The selectors haven’t rewarded his consistency. Suryakumar has been in terrific form in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy too - India’s premier domestic T20 tournament. He aggregated 360 runs in 10 innings at a strike rate of 145.16 in the 2018-19 season and 392 runs in 10 innings at a strike rate of 168.97 in the 2019-20 season.
Suryakumar also has a stellar record in first-class cricket. He has scored 5326 runs in 77 matches at an average of 44.01 including 14 hundreds. He was in fine form for Mumbai in the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy where he aggregated 508 runs in just 5 matches at an average of 56.44 and an incredible strike rate of 95.13 including two hundreds. His List A numbers are also quite impressive - 2447 runs in 82 innings at a strike rate of 99.63!
It is high time he gets his due.