Suryakumar Yadav
India’s Suryakumar Yadav plays a shot during the ICC Men’s Twenty20 World Cup 2022 cricket match against South Africa at the Perth Stadium on October 30, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Suryakumar Yadav lit up the Perth Stadium on a cold, windy evening. That was the lone bright spot in India’s innings that unravelled against the South African pace pack in the T20 World Cup. His 40-ball 68 against one of the hostile bowling attacks in cricket reaffirmed his talent. A talent that bloomed late on the international stage at age 32.

He may have been late to international cricket, but that hasn’t stopped Yadav from expressing his talent. He’s enjoying it. Never mind the occasion: Yadav is unfazed as he launches counter-attacks even in crises. Sunday (October 30) was one such occasion.

Irish Eden Belleza/Gulf News

Perth is one of the fastest pitches on Earth. The ball bounces and flies off the hard surface. That’s why wicketkeepers and slips stand deep. Throatballs and chin music are common. Earlier on Sunday, Pakistan’s Haris Rauf crashed one short ball onto the helmet grill of Zimbabwe’s Bas de Leede, who was concussed out of the team and was replaced.

That didn’t stop Rohit Sharma from choosing to bat against South Africa, who fielded a four-man pace attack. The ball bounced and moved around. The Indians were in deep trouble as they slumped to 49/5 by the ninth over. Yadav, who walked into the powerplay, was unperturbed even when wickets fell around him against the pace and fury of Lungi Ngidi.

In Dinesh Karthik’s company, Yadav played some audacious shots: a tennis forehand shot off Kagiso Rabada was the best. It was almost as if Yadav was playing on a different strip. They call Karthik India’s best finisher, but he couldn’t put bat to ball. And yet, Yadav was reeling off boundaries and sixes.

Yadav's backfoot play

The innings provided absolute proof of Yadav’s talent. He had forced his way into the crowded Indian batting line-up on the strength of numerous game-changing innings for the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. His classy knocks in international cricket begged the question: Where was Yadav all these days?

Most of that brilliance was on subcontinental pitches and in the UAE. So the bigger question was: Will he survive on the bouncy pitches of Australia? His backfoot play and the ability play the ball late suggested that he would thrive Down Under. Yadav answered the question, saying he loves playing on bouncy pitches, and the bounce suits his game. Those words felt like bravado until the Perth classic.

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A feature of Yadav’s innings have been his ability to play shots irrespective of the situation. He doesn’t take time to settle down. Instead, he goes on the offensive as soon as he comes in. Yadav admits that he trains for such situations. He simulates such situations during training and works at it.

All those sessions seemed to have paid. He’s setting the stadiums alight, wherever he goes. For Suryakumar Yadav, SKY is the limit.