T20 World Cup 2022: Invincible Surya inspires India into semis

The stylish Mumbai batter slams unbeaten 61 off 25 as Rohit & Co. topped their group with a 71-run win against Zimbabwe

Published: 07th November 2022 10:16 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th November 2022 10:16 AM   |  A+A-

Suryakumar Yadav put his scoop shot to good use, scoring 28 off his 61 runs in the 'V' behind the wicket.(Photo | AFP)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Your team has got off to a good start cruising to 68/1 in eight overs. But there is a lull. In the next four overs, only 21 runs come your team's way and what more, Virat Kohli loses his wicket. You walk in, and then the opener who had just reached his fifty, KL Rahul, gets out. And over the next 10 balls, you get to face only two deliveries as you watch another attacking batter, Rishabh Pant, falling prey to a stunning catch in the deep. If all this isn’t enough, only four runs were added to the scoreboard in the next over, pulling the run rate down to 7.13 after three-quarters of the innings. Such a situation would have some kind of impact on any batter. But not on Suryakumar Yadav.

If there is any cricketer who could be called invincible in 2022, it is the Indian batter. The numbers say it all. This year, he has smashed 1026 runs in 28 T20I innings at a strike rate of 186.54. His average is well into the 40s as well, but it is the SR that makes the difference. Among the middle-order batters (from the 16 teams that are taking part in the ongoing T20 World Cup) with 50 or more runs this year, no one has a better SR (189.5) than him. In fact, the next best in the list is Jimmy Neesham (184.17), but he has made only 256 runs.

But it is not just the numbers. It's the way Suryakumar decimates every bowling attack that has come his way that makes one wreck their brain wondering how he is able to have such an impact with impeccable consistency. He is the closest 360-degree batter the world has seen since AB de Villiers. He manipulates the field, creates scoring areas out of thin air and does with such artistry and clean striking that blows you away every single time.

Sunday, against Zimbabwe at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, was no different. With India trying to up the ante in the last five overs, Suryakumar, batting on five off six balls, shuffled across to try and pull their fastest bowler, Blessing Muzarabani. End result, a top edge to the boundary. Next ball, a slight jump to his left to create room and launched the pacer over mid-off. First ball of the 17th from Richard Ngarava, a wide full toss, he lobs it over short-third for four. From first gear, he had directly gone to fifth. But the madness was just beginning.

Picture this. Ngarava runs in and bowls a low full-toss wide outside off-stump from around the wicket. What does Suryakumar do? He stretches his front foot across, leans forward and whips over the fine-leg boundary for a six. But that is not just the end of it. Ngarava comes over the wicket to create a tougher angle in the final over and goes for that wide yorker again. Only this time, Suryakumar shuffled a bit, planting his backfoot on leg-stump and front foot across on the wide line and stretched forward to sweep the left-arm pacer against the angle over the square-leg boundary. And on the final delivery, he moved to the wide crease and bent down to scoop another low full toss that flew inches past his left ear for a six behind the wicket. If you were awestruck by the first couple of shots, this one would leave you speechless.

Former India head coach Ravi Shastri wasn't spared either. When Shastri asked the 32-year-old how he could pull off something like that, he would say it was predetermined a bit. But not without a method behind it. He would be calculating the dimensions of the boundary, anticipating what the bowler would do next according to the field and then back himself to find the sweet spot — all in a matter of seconds.

"I practiced that stroke a lot when I used to play rubber-ball cricket. You gotta be thinking what the bowler is thinking at that time, what the field is. You got to know how long the boundary is behind. When I stand there, I feel it's about 60-65m, the pace of the ball, I just take it on the sweet spot of the bat, if it hits, then it just goes down all the way," he would tell Shastri later on Sunday night.In between all this, there was a front foot loft over extra cover, a slower yorker drilled down the ground, a regulation scoop over fine-leg as Suryakumar smashed an unbeaten 61 runs from 25 balls, helping India secure a 71-run win as they finished on the top of the group.

There is something about athletes doing things at the peak of their powers and looking invincible while doing it all. Suryakumar is in that place right now and the good thing for the Indian team is that he doesn't look like leaving that place anytime soon.

Brief scores: India 186/5 in 20 ovs (Surya 61 n.o, Rahul 51; Williams 2/9) bt Zimbabwe 115 in 17.2 ovs (Burl 35; Ashwin 3/22, Hardik 2/16).


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