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India’s Suryakumar Yadav drives during the fourth T20 match against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 18,2021. Image Credit: ANI/ICC Twitter

Suryakumar Yadav brought more than a ray of sunshine to India. His maiden international innings of 57 was the bulwark on which the Indian victory was built in the fourth Twenty20 International against England on Thursday (March 18, 2021). The eight-run win helped India level the series 2-2, and Yadav walked away with the Man of the Match award.

For the Yadav supporters, it was a vindication of his abundant talent. A talent that translated into runs in the last several seasons. The UAE cricket enthusiasts wouldn’t have forgotten his high-scoring ways in IPL 2020. Yadav played several crucial knocks, which helped the Mumbai Indians emerge runaway victors.

Why Yadav is a joy to watch

The resplendent IPL form and the hot streak in the Vijay Hazare Trophy only served to amplify the clamour to include Yadav in the Indian squad. Yadav and his Mumbai Indians’ teammate Ishan Kishan made the squad, and Kishan produced a thrilling fifty on debut in the match, which Yadav wasn’t required to bat. When Yadav was dropped in the next game, I thought he would become another T.E. Srinivasan.

Srinivasan, who? Indian cricket watchers in the 1980s would wax lyrical of the style and authority of Srinivasan’s strokeplay. He certainly was one of the best batsmen produced by Tamil Nadu. But the genius of G.R. Vishwanath kept Srinivasan out of the Indian squad. T.E., as he’s fondly called, only played one Test and two one-dayers.

Yadav too is a joy to watch. He seemed to have plenty of time to execute his sublime strokes with immaculate timing. IPL games only helped increase his repertoire, and some of his innovative shots could even rival South Africa’s AB de Villiers. Interestingly, Yadav’s return to the Indian side was due to an injury to Kishan.

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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. A couple of failures and the most talented players could become a footnote in Indian cricket history. Like T.E. Srinivasan.

That’s why Yadav's knock in Ahmedabad is priceless. It sure was valuable to India, who lost skipper Virat Kohli, vice-captain Rohit Sharma and opener K.L. Rahul relatively cheaply. It was a crisis. Exactly the sort of situation that Yadav thrives.

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India’s Suryakumar Yadav plays a pull shot during the fourth T20 match against England at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad on March 18, 2021. Image Credit: ANI/BCCI Twitter

A first ball six for Suryakumar Yadav

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.

The scintillating 57 of 31 balls ended controversially after the third umpire could not find conclusive proof to overturn the onfield umpire’s soft signal. Strange, isn’t it? The third umpire’s verdict is sought when the onfield umpire is unsure of the dismissal. How can the onfield umpire give a soft signal when he’s not sure. So if the soft signal is wrong, and the third umpire is unable to overturn it, the bad decision will stay. Be that it may, we don’t know whether the catch was clean or not. Maybe, even the fielder Dawid Malan wouldn’t know. The record books will show a dismissal. Let’s stay with that.

For now, let’s celebrate Yadav’s ability to turn his talent and domestic form into runs in the international arena. He has proved to be worthy of an India cap. Let’s hope that more runs would flow from his flashing blade.

Suryakumar Yadav’s batting is indeed a treat. A treat that could help India’s cause.