Suryakumar Yadav the Role Player

Suryakumar Yadav celebrates an Indian victory with KL Rahul.

It was quite perplexing that one of the IPL’s best performers over the last few seasons couldn’t find himself a place in the national team. On paper, Suryakumar Yadav seemed to be the role player India needed. He made this even more perplexing when he went head to head with one of India’s greats in Virat Kohli in an IPL match in Abu Dhabi. Yadav, or SKY as he is often referred to, stared Kohli down after receiving one of Kohli’s on-field remarks.

Ultimately, Yadav had the last laugh as he finished on 79* in 43 balls as he took Mumbai over the line against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. His celebration was calm and composed as he merely signalled to the dressing room: ‘Don’t worry, I am here and will keep performing.’ What followed the next morning was a social media post from then India coach, Ravi Shastri which was captioned ‘Surya Namaskar (Good morning), stay patient SKY your opportunity will come.’

He did stay patient. Yadav’s agonising wait was made even longer on debut as Kohli and Ishan Kishan ensured Yadav didn’t get a chance to bat in T20I at home against England. But it was all worth it after all. Yadav went on the back foot and played one of his nonchalant flicks for six first ball against Jofra Archer. Yadav had arrived at the big stage. He hasn’t looked back since then and has been India’s go-to man at number 4/5 in the T20 setup.

The talent that Yadav possesses took a while for the Indian selectors to see, but they ended put all their eggs in his basket. Yadav was India’s Test Match backup when injuries occurred and he had also found himself in the ODI squad despite not particularly knocking down the door in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The idea wasn’t bad at all: Yadav can anchor an innings with his patience and skill in finding gaps, but he can work the field remarkably through his 360-degree play and he also has the top gear where he can accelerate and finish an innings as is being seen recently.

That variety has been reflected short career so far- in South Africa, he had to come in at number six and bat with the lower order and look to finish the game. While India fell short by four runs despite Yadav’s run a ball 36, he had certainly shown promising signs for future assignments. In the recently concluded ODI series against the West Indies, Yadav finished the first game with Deepak Hooda as he made 34* in 36 balls. In the second match, he was exposed to a completely foreign situation, India was in early trouble and the run rate was slow, Yadav now showcased his maturity to the cricketing world as he composed 64 runs in 83 balls to guide India to what was ultimately a match-winning total of 237.

The power of Yadav was seen in the T20 series against Windies which followed. In game one, just when India were slowing down and the big wickets of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli had been taken- Yadav combined with promising talent Venkatesh Iyer in which Yadav made 34* in 18 balls to take India to a six-wicket win chasing 160. In the third game, India had just 95 runs on the board after 14 overs, with it looking like they would have to settle for around 140-150 from that position.

But Yadav’s explosive power ensured India got well beyond that and reached over 180. Yadav made 65 runs in 31 deliveries as he strongly cemented himself as India’s perfect role player. Despite his recent unfortunate injury, Yadav is in the form of his life at the highest level, it is something he would’ve dreamed of. His skill will be a major asset for India in the next two years as they look to challenge for both the T20 WC and ODI World Cup. 

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