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Home / Cricket / Despite form, India call-up eludes Yadav

Despite form, India call-up eludes Yadav

Powerful performances in the IPL are rewarded with a spot on the national squad more often than not, but for Yadav, it has been a surprisingly long wait, one that continues.

cricket Updated: Oct 30, 2020, 09:16 IST
Surya Kumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) match between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Surya Kumar Yadav of Mumbai Indians after winning the Indian Premier League (IPL) match between the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers Bangalore, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.(PTI)

When will Suryakumar Yadav get his India call-up?

Powerful performances in the IPL are rewarded with a spot on the national squad more often than not, but for Yadav, it has been a surprisingly long wait, one that continues. The 30-year-old Mumbai Indians batsman has proven to be a run-machine at this IPL, with an average just above 40 and a strike rate above 155--both numbers are his best yet in an IPL season--yet he has missed out again on making the team for Australia.

Soon after the squads were announced on Wednesday, Yadav was out in the middle, playing the finest innings of his IPL career, taking on bowlers as deadly and diverse as Dale Steyn and Yuzvendra Chahal with equal ease; his 79 off 43 balls was more or less the entire story of MI’s chase.

“Deep down inside he must be very very disappointed to not have donned the blue for India,” his teammate Kieron Pollard said immediately after the match. “He just keeps getting better.”

It is an indisputable statement--Yadav does keep getting better. If you take the IPL, Yadav spent a few seasons with KKR as a finisher, batting low down the order and attacking with elan. Then he switched to MI in 2018 and began to open the batting with even more success; his average jumped from around 18 in the season before to almost 37 and his strike rate increased too. He finished with 512 runs. 2019 (424 runs) was an even repeat of 2018’s success and this season he looks set to surpass all of his previous performances.

“Bandey mein hai Dum. Jaldi number aayega no doubt. 3 blockbuster seasons in a row,” tweeted Virender Sehwag after Yadav’s match-winning innings against RCB.

Describing his approach during an earlier interview, Yadav summed it up as “fearless”--”In the past few years the way I am batting in any situation, I have been really flexible in my batting order from opening to No 7 and in all formats, the brand of cricket I am playing right now, I am really enjoying. I am thinking of nothing else except to score runs,” he said.

His prolific scoring abilities are not limited to the IPL either.

At last year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy, he had the highest average in the tournament (113) in the four innings he got and the third best strike-rate (154.79). In the Mushtaq Ali T20s, he was Mumbai’s highest run-getter and the third highest in the tournament (392 runs, in 10 innings, SR: 168.96). In the Ranji Trophy he aggregated 508 runs in five games (avg 56.44). Add to it the Deodhar Trophy, where Yadav had a knock of 72 from 29 balls.

He scored two centuries in the Ranji and both came in the second innings on difficult tracks. In the first game of the season against Baroda, he helped Prithvi Shaw set up the win with an unbeaten 102; in the penultimate tie of the league stage against Saurashtra--when all seemed lost for Mumbai after they conceded a first innings lead--he helped his team make a match of it by blasting a belligerent 134.

In a dominating, powerful side like MI, it is easy to go under the radar when you are playing with the likes of Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Pollard and Hardik Pandya. Yet, Yadav has made the pivotal No 3 position his own in this fiery line-up; so much so that Pandya is hardly getting a bat this season.

He’s done it not just with his fine technique and powerful strokes but by thinking on his feet and outsmarting the bowlers. If the RCB match was about manipulating fields and quality bowling with classical strokes--a backfoot drive or a square cut against Steyn, or lofted drives over cover against Chahal--an earlier innings of 79 against Rajasthan Royals this season was a masterclass in innovative batting. Pitted against Jofra Archer, Yadav unleashed premeditated edges, slashes through the slips or over backward point, uppish backfoot punches and the ramp shot.

Against RCB, he showed another aspect of his game--his temperament. As he started to take the match away from the RCB bowlers, he got the full glare treatment from Virat Kohli. A few words were exchanged. Yadav remained unfazed. He hit the winning runs--another lofted drive over cover for four--and made a cocky gesture towards his dugout: “I’m here, don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

Yadav has certainly put the Indian selectors under pressure. For all of India’s T20 batting riches, the finisher’s role remains a weakness--no one of the caliber of MS Dhoni or Yuvraj Singh at their prime has stepped up yet--and this is where Yadav could fit in well. Yadav has shown that he has the calmness required under fire as well as the range of shots (against RR he had scored nearly 60 per cent of his runs behind the wicket).

Give him his blue shirt already.

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