The IPL, for long, has been credited with unearthing next-generation talents and giving Indian selectors enough options to choose from in a bid to assemble a potentially match-winning Indian side.
Mumbai Indians stalwart Suryakumar Yadav is one such glowing example.
The key to Suryakumar Yadav’s instant success in international cricket is a great attitude and being surrounded by the right kind of people till the time India call-up eluded him till late 2020.
Long before donning the Mumbai Indians (MI) jersey, a 20-year-old Suryakumar Yadav announced his arrival on the domestic circuit with an impressive knock of 73 runs in his Ranji Trophy debut. The 2011-12 season, his first full outing in Ranji Trophy, saw him topping the run charts for Mumbai.
A double-century against Odisha in only his third match of the season, another hundred in the very next match, and a ton in Duleep Trophy to cap off a remarkable domestic season, Suryakumar had convinced the Mumbai Indians management of his capabilities to earn a contract for the Indian Premier League (IPL).
But, earning a contract is one thing, and coming good on the promise is altogether a different ballgame – something Suryakumar learned the hard way.
Suryakumar Yadav: The early years
Surya toiled and toiled hard in the domestic circuit. He has been the backbone of giants Mumbai and has played an instrumental role in their scintillating domestic form.
In an Indian side brimming with talent, it’s not easy to get a break. Prolific scoring in domestic matches helps catch the selectors’ eye. But that doesn’t guarantee selection. Even if a player is selected, the opportunities would be slim. So they’ve to grab the chances that come their way.
Growing in stature with every season, Suryakumar became the talk of the town in 2018 after becoming the most expensive uncapped player at the IPL Auctions. He eventually returned to Mumbai who shelled out a whopping Rs 3.2 Crores to reacquire his services. If KKR allowed the right-hander to establish himself, Mumbai’s move to make him bat higher up the order proved to be a masterstroke.
Such was his growing stature, that he seemed to possess the Midas touch.
Yadav’s first shot in international cricket was a six. That was from the first ball he faced. A scorcher from Jofra Archer that clocked over 140 kmph was nonchalantly pulled over square leg. He reeled one exquisite shot after another, including his trademark cover drive off a Mark Wood screamer.
Suryakumar Yadav: Making most of his ability
Suryakumar caressed and creamed his way to his 2nd T20I fifty in only his 3rd innings, meaning that India, despite a wobble at the end, got up to 164. Ultimately, the visitors defended the score and took a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series. Yet, it was perhaps Suryakumar’s knock that would’ve infused the Indian faithful with unbridled joy.
Mumbai Indians, during these years, have provided a large number of top white ball players which included national team vice-captain Rohit Sharma, Pandya brothers Hardik and Krunal, pacer Jasprit Bumrah, Surya, Ishan Kishan to name a few.
India have an embarrassment of riches in the batting department. That, though, doesn’t take anything away from the unique skill-set Suryakumar brings to the fore. And, to an extent, it is this particular skill-set that might make him indispensable too.
As far as India’s batting anchors are concerned, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, and Virat Kohli like to gauge the situation before opening up their shoulders. On their respective best days, it is a method that bears extraordinary fruit, for they inevitably bat through the innings and increase the tempo.