Suryakumar Yadav has made the world sit up and take notice, once again. He has made it a habit now. Everyone just has one question, ‘how is this lad not in the Indian T20I squad’?
Social media has been on fire on the exclusion of Suryakumar Yadav from the Indian team. Almost every former cricketer, cricket expert, cricket analyst just can’t put their head around as to why a player of the calibre of Suryakumar Yadav has constantly been ignored by the selectors.
In fact, let alone being ignored, he has come nowhere close to being in or even around the Indian team. He has barely gone on India ‘A’ tours as well. Suryakumar Yadav has been around the Indian domestic setup for a decade now. However, for the last few years, he has been piling on the runs in domestic cricket and the Indian Premier League (IPL).
In fact, in T20 cricket, the Mumbai-born cricketer has scored more than 65% of his T20 career runs since the start of 2018. In this period, he averages 41.17 and has a strike-rate of 145.05.
Yadav’s IPL career started with the Mumbai Indians (MI) but he played just one game. It was only in 2014 when he moved to Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) that he got a chance. He donned the finisher’s role and played some excellent cameos in the middle and lower middle-order for the Gautam Gambhir-led side. Overall, in four seasons, he amassed 608 runs at an average of 22.52 and at a strike-rate of 131.89.
However, once he moved back to MI, his IPL and T20 career took a drastic turn. The consistency was a notch higher. The batting talent was not being wasted down the order and there was high-class batting on display on all times.
Yadav got the opportunity to bat at the top of the order. He batted in the top three and since then, he hasn’t looked back. The 30-year-old has consistently got runs. He got 512 runs in the 2018 IPL season, 424 runs in 2019 and this season, his run tally stands at 374 (average of 41.55 and a strike-rate of 153.27). Only four others have scored more runs in the IPL since the start of the 2018 edition.
He has just taken his batting to another level and he has all the shots in the book. Yadav is easily one of the few (or rather rare) 360-degrees player in India. There is hardly any shot that he cannot play.
He can flick and work the ball around on the leg-side with ease. He can drive on the up or rise to punch the ball on the off-side. He can cut and pull too. He can sway away and play the ramp. He can get down and scoop. He can use his feet and dominate the spinners. He is unorthodox and uncanny and can put the bowlers off their lines and lengths in no time.
Suryakumar Yadav has shown that range and versatility in this current edition of the IPL as well. He can score a quickfire half-century batting first and just own the middle overs and finish with a flourish. He can even put his head down and chase down a score when others around him haven’t really got going. The 30-year-old is a batsman for all weathers, a bit like the KXIP, who’re resonating the same feeling this season.
Despite that, Suryakumar Yadav was overlooked (again) in the Indian side that is due to travel to Australia post the IPL. A day after India’s squads were announced, he found the best way possible to make a statement and send a message to the selectors. He smashed a stunning 79 at a strike-rate of 183.72 to take his side Mumbai Indians home in a run-chase where the next best was 25. And that too with the Indian captain in the opposition.
For long now, India have lacked a middle overs enforcer and their middle-order has been in a mess. Despite that, Suryakumar Yadav has been overlooked. Yes, there is Shreyas Iyer at No. 4 who has grabbed his chances. But Yadav deserves a spot in the Indian team to say the least. He is a perfect fit and can bat anywhere in the order. It’s not necessary to bat him at 3 or 4. The Mumbai lad has shown that he can adapt.
Even though his turn hasn’t arrived yet, Yadav isn’t too fussed about it. Last year, in an interview, he said, “It will be great if I’m selected for the Indian team but if not, I’ll still be scoring runs here.” And he is doing exactly that. He is just biding his time and constantly piling on the runs.
Suryakumar Yadav has broken down the selection door and it may not be long before he dons that India blue. And as Kieron Pollard said the other day in the post-match presentation after Yadav’s stunning unbeaten 79 which led MI to a win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, “he’s very, very close (to that India call-up).”