Suryakumar Yadav silences lockdown kids amid minnow-basher tag, unleashes gully cricket even as their heroes struggle | Crickit
close_game
close_game

Suryakumar Yadav silences lockdown kids amid minnow-basher tag, unleashes gully cricket even as their heroes struggle

Jun 21, 2024 06:37 AM IST

India vs Afghanistan: On the same track that defeated Kohli and Rohit Sharma before him, Suryakumar batted as if he were transported to a shirtfront.

Virat Kohli and struggle don’t often populate the same sentence. Even when not on song, the former skipper is more fluent than most at their fluent best. And yet, here he was at the Kensington Oval, trying hard but not successfully to force the issue, frustrated by lack of pace and the intelligence of the Afghan seamers, who used the cutters superbly.

India's Suryakumar Yadav in action during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Afghanistan in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024(BCCI - X)
India's Suryakumar Yadav in action during the Super 8 Group 1 match against Afghanistan in the ICC Mens T20 World Cup 2024(BCCI - X)

Coming off a golden duck in his previous outing, Kohli didn’t get off the mark until his fifth delivery; when he hung back and clattered Naveen-ul-Haq back over his head for six – reminiscent of that shot against Haris Rauf in the same tournament in Melbourne a year and a half back – it was the first time he had more runs (15) in the innings than balls faced (13). And when he drove Rashid Khan tamely to long-off for a run-a-ball 24, it was to no one’s surprise. This isn’t an innings Kohli will remember with great fondness, even if it was his highest score of the competition, following 1, 4 and 0 in his three previous outings.

Kohli’s travails were magnified over the next hour by another right-hander who might aesthetically not be the most appealing, but who has perfected the art of making T20 runs. Effective, brutal T20 runs, thanks to a complete awareness of what he can do and blessed with the confidence that his execution is by and large flawless. Kohli is a big fan of this strapping figure, the world’s best T20I batter officially – the ICC rankings will bear testimony – for nearly two years now.

Suryakumar Yadav has yet to crack the One-Day International code and is unlikely to add to his one Test appearance anytime soon, but thrust him into the cauldron of T20 cricket, and an untamed beast emerges, a charging bull that doesn’t necessarily need a China shop to wreak untold destruction. At 33, he has been around the senior competitive circuit for a dozen seasons, boasts 5,628 runs and an average of 43.62 from 82 first-class outings and is a phenomenal 50-over batter outside of internationals, but it is in T20s that he is at his most devastating.

On the same track that defeated Kohli, and Rohit Sharma before him, Suryakumar batted as if he were transported to a shirtfront. This wasn’t a treacherous surface, not by any stretch of the imagination. There was no prodigious seam, nor dangerously uneven bounce, which were the norm in New York during India’s Group A matches. Instead, the track for the first of their three Super Eight fixtures was on the slower side, necessitating batters to make their own pace.

There are several ways of doing that. One can be brute power, coupled with eclectic timing, which Hardik Pandya showcased more than once. The other can be reversing with impunity, which Rishabh Pant did for a little while before being trapped in front by Rashid Khan. A third is what Suryakumar opted for – trust his game, hit the ball in his areas, throw the bowlers off their rhythm with his unique penchant for the unconventional.

The sweep was Suryakumar’s preferred option this Thursday. It’s a shot Indians of a certain vintage assiduously avoided, but now it’s a permanent fixture even in the Indian landscape. Few play it better, or with more ferocity, than Suryakumar; with Rashid threatening massive damage – he picked up a wicket in each of his first three overs – Suryakumar repeatedly swept him. Through forward of square. Through square-leg. Over and behind square. To long-leg. The Afghan captain looked on in wonderment. He was being schooled and not even he could do anything to prevent it.

As if to show that he isn’t just a sweeping success, Suryakumar drove Azmatullah Omarzai back over his head for six, clubbed Fazalhaq Farooqi over wide long-on and then wristed him past mid-on for four. The last of those boundaries took him to a second straight fifty. A week back in New York against US, that landmark had spanned 49 deliveries; now, he needed a little more than half -- 27 balls, five fours, three stunning sixes. Gears? Really? I have ’em all, he seemed to say.

It was thanks to him and Pandya that India got to 181 when 160 might have been more realistic. Pandya did his thing, striking the ball beautifully, but India needed SKY to blossom. He brought clarity of thinking and purpose to the plate, fused it with glorious execution and converted a middling total to a giant one. With panache and flair, if not ultimate grace. On a track where Virat Kohli struggled. Take a bow, Suryakumar Yadav.

Catch every big hit, every wicket with Crickit, a one stop destination for Live Scores, Match Stats, Infographics & much more. Explore now!

See more

Stay connected for all the latest cricket news, match schedules and ICC rankings. Keep in touch with everything exciting surrounding the India vs Sri Lanka series, including live scores and schedules. Stay updated and never miss a moment of action with Hindustan Times.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 18, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On