It’s not easy to be Suryakumar Yadav. He has got everything the hard way right from his childhood. Want to play professional cricket? First show everyone you can score runs against the big boys in tennis-ball cricket. Want to bat higher up the order? First finish games for your team, score at a higher strike rate. The last part, however, left Surya’s life – at least for now – only in 2018 when he moved from Kolkata Knight Riders to Mumbai Indians. He had of course started to bat in the top four in domestic cricket around the same time.
The Mumbai Indians right-hander who scored an unbeaten 79 against Rajasthan Royals – his highest score in the IPL – started his domestic and IPL career batting in the lower middle order but gradually forced his way into the top four with consistent performances. (Full coverage of IPL 2020)
“I have enjoyed both the roles, I have kept my options open. Even when I started playing domestic cricket for Mumbai I batted low but later on based on the performance I was given a chance to bat higher up the order. For KKR I batted lower down the order and later on when I came here in MI they gave the responsibility of anchoring the innings,” Suryakumar told Hindustan Times in a selected media interaction arranged by the franchise on Thursday.
It’s been 10 years since Suryakumar made his first-class debut but his career started to make the upward move only recently. The IPL has played a major part in it. It was here that Suryakumar first grabbed the limelight by sweeping and at times reverse sweeping the fast bowlers while playing for KKR. But yet, the big push was missing, attractive 20s and 30s were all Suryakumar could manage which was not enough to give him that push to the next level. It came when he decided to move MI three seasons ago.
A lot has changed in Suryakumar’s life in the last 2-3 years which effectively coincides with his arrival in MI. The Mumbai right-hander not only admitted that these have been his best years as a batsman but also added that he has matured as a person, learning to focus more on the process rather than the goal.
“Since the last 2-3 years, I have matured a little bit. I’ve got clarity in mind about what I want from the game and how to approach things. I realised that if I keep running behind one thing, it’ll keep going far away from me so instead of that I’ve just kept focus on small things which I can do. If I think about the goal alone then the process goes missing so I thought giving more importance to the process,” Suryakumar added.
A person who has followed a somewhat similar path to Surya, at least in the rise to the top of the order is MI captain Rohit Sharma. Surya said the MI opener has played a pivotal role in shaping him as a top-order batsman. All Surya did was ‘blindly follow’ Rohit’s instructions.
“Since 2018, when I started batting higher up the order for MI, I’ve tried the same things he told me, nothing different, I just trusted him blindly,” Surya said. “I obviously knew what my game was but I obviously know what he was trying to tell me. He’s always there, be it on the ground, during the game, practice sessions, in the gym. Whenever we meet there is always a conversation. He has been amazing in international cricket since so long. So whenever I sit and talk with him, I try and grasp all the knowledge especially on how to go about things while batting at the top of the order. All the time he tells me what he did when he started playing, shares his experience, tries to explain different situations what he has gone through,” he added.