NEW DELHI: Tired of waiting for the elusive India call-up, a frustrated Suryakumar Yadav switched from hard work to smart work, tweaking certain aspects of his game to get his much-anticipated breakthrough.
The 32-year-old decided to change his training, began dieting and batting more towards the off-side to be more effective.
"After 2017-18 me and my wife, Devisha, sat down and decided, let's do some smart work from here on. You have worked hard, you have come this far, let's do something else and we will see what happens," Suryakumar told ESPNCricinfo's Cricket Monthly.
"I started training in a different way. After 2018 I realised what I needed to work on in my game. I started batting more towards the off side. I started dieting. Did a few things which really helped me in the 2018 domestic season and 2019. And going forward, in 2020 my body was completely different."
Suryakumar made his debut in international cricket in a T20 match against England in March 2021, 11 years after starting his first-class career.
Suryakumar felt that he had been practising mindlessly before and getting frustrated, but after shifting to"quality" training he became more consistent.
"It took time. It took around a year and a half for me to realise what my body is used to - what will help me, and how can I move forward. Eventually, we both realised, yes, we are moving in the right direction. Then everything was on autopilot. I knew what I had to do, how I had to train, how much practice I had to do," he said.
"Before that, I was just practising, practising, getting a little frustrated sometimes. And I felt there was no quality in that - there was a lot of quantity. But after 2018 there was a lot of quality in my training, diet, net sessions and everything, which helped me really well."
"And then it was a complete build-up, runs coming in all formats, in the IPL as well. So consistency came with that and finally I broke the door," he added.
"Anyone that's seen him from a very young age knew that he had an abundance of talent."— ICC (@ICC) August 16, 2022
On the ICC Review, Ricky Ponting recapped the journey of Suryakumar Yadav, India's top player in the @MRFWorldwide ICC Men's T20I Rankings for batters
More https://t.co/nkevBVljMN pic.twitter.com/ec3aO5w3fi
In 2020, to his disappointment, Suryakumar was left out of India's T20 squad for the Australia tour, and a couple of days later he played a scintillating 43-ball 79-run knock for Mumbai Indians.
"It was a little difficult. I mean all the team-mates from different countries (during the IPL) were telling me, your opportunity has come, you are doing so well," he said.
"And I was also very excited at that time, and I imagined things: yes, I'll do this, I'll do that when I play for India. But then, when it didn't come, obviously I was disappointed."
The Mumbai dasher, acronymed SKY, has a penchant to hit a boundary off the very first ball. He has sent the opening delivery to the fence eight times in 26 innings till the end of the 2022 Asia Cup.
"No, that's not planned (hitting the boundary off the first ball). That's what I said - when I actually run in to bat, I'm already warmed up, I'm excited," he said.
"So if I have to stamp my authority when I go in to bat. If I have to tell the opponent that I am here for some business and I am here to score runs, what do I do? "I hit a boundary off the first ball, a six off the first ball, or maybe I try and hit two-three boundaries in the first seven-eight balls I face. That's my style of playing."
Suryakumar credited rubber-ball cricket for his ability to play shots all across the field.
"I used to play a lot of rubber-ball cricket during my school days. We used to play on hard cement tracks. People used to just come running and chuck the ball as fast as they could."
"When you are playing with the rubber ball on hard cement, it's easy for you to scoop, pull, play an uppercut, then play a slice over point. All these strokes which you see me play, square of the wicket and behind square, have come from that," the right-hander said.
"I have never practised this in the nets, never against the bowling machine. So it has all come from that." How do you create those angles? "You don't have any other option when it's coming at your body - instead of getting hit, you try something."