Sai Sudharsan interview: 'I will definitely love to bring more power to my batting'
If the left-hander can have the same growth curve as Gill, he is likely to be a more regular member of the Titans juggernaut next season.
B Sai Sudharsan seems to be a quick learner. Having been asked to retire out in Qualifier 2 against Mumbai Indians after a 31-ball 43, a similar situation seemed to be unfolding in the IPL final against Chennai Super Kings three days later. Going into the last six overs of the Gujarat Titans innings, the 21-year-old was on 36 off 25 balls with eight wickets in hand and plenty of ammunition left in the dugout.
But Sudharsan wasn’t going to let the game drift again. He launched Maheesh Theekshana for a couple of sixes over midwicket before hammering Tushar Deshpande for a six and a hat-trick of fours in the 17th over. By the time he was dismissed in the final over, a standing ovation awaited him after an innings of 96 off 47 balls — the third-highest individual score in an IPL final.
“I definitely learned a lot (from the Mumbai game),” says the youngster from Chennai. “I had given my best, but I didn’t find the momentum at that stage to get boundaries. I was a bit lost while playing a few balls in that game. I felt I addressed it in the final. There was more awareness. I was also calmer and trying to think of what the bowlers were trying to do.”
Armed with a solid technique, Sudharsan’s commendable record in the longer formats isn’t surprising. In seven first-class games for Tamil Nadu, he has scored 572 runs at an average of 47.66. With an average of 60.36 in 11 matches, his numbers in 50-over cricket are even more promising. If there's an area he needs to work on, it is power-hitting.
“I will definitely love to bring more power to my batting. It is very important to work on. I am keen to develop every aspect of my batting. I have to work on that, but it will take some time. If I can hold my shape and time the ball better, that will create power,” he says.
In Shubman Gill, Sudharsan has a glowing example of a batter who has worked in that direction. From a strike rate of 118.9 in 2021 to 157.8 this year, Gill has raised his game by several notches.
“I have learned a lot from Gill this season. The way he paces the innings, chooses the bowlers to pick on and maximises the run-scoring opportunities. We had a lot of conversations. He has that many options and the way he’s playing, he’s motivating everyone in the team,” says Sudharsan, who belongs to a sporting family — his father Bhardwaj was an athlete and mother Usha was a volleyball player.
If Sudharsan can have the same growth curve as Gill, he is likely to be a more regular member of the Titans juggernaut next season. Despite scoring 362 runs at an average of 51.71 this year, he played only eight games in the campaign. Last year, he featured in five matches.
In these past 12 months, Sudharsan senses a perceptible change in his game. “Last season gave me the belief that I could play at that level. Playing against quality bowlers even in net sessions, your batting tends to get better naturally. I had a pretty decent domestic season. I had carried that confidence from last year’s IPL into the domestic season. And having done well in domestic cricket, I was feeling a little bit more confident that I will do well in this year’s IPL. There is definitely a difference between this year’s IPL and last season. I feel I am reading the game better. Even my decision-making has improved,” says Sudharsan.
His repertoire of shots is also expanding. During the final on Monday, for instance, an attempted scoop against Tushar Deshpande had the desired result even though his intention differed. He moved across his stumps and tried to paddle the ball over short fine-leg, only for it to take the top edge of his bat and carry over short third man for six.
“I started practising the scoop during the preparatory camp just before this IPL. It has helped me in crunch situations,” he says. “I don’t have specific targets as such. Every game in this IPL has taught me a few lessons. If I work on those aspects and sharpen my skills, the rest will take care of itself.”