Dubai: India’s ace batter Suryakumar Yadav could put no foot wrong in the Twenty20 internationals in the last two years. Since making his debut in March 2021 the Mumbai batter has been a nightmare to the bowlers across the world. Coming in late in the innings the 33-year-old could play his shots 360 degrees to unsettle the bowlers.
While he has been a dominant star in the shortest format, the same cannot be said in the other whiteball format, the 50-over One Day Internationals (ODIs).
Suryakumar ended 2023 as the leading runscorer in the Twenty20 format with 733 runs from 18 matches, a performance that helped him clinch the top ICC award for the second consecutive time. In fact, he has been No 1 for most part during the last two years.
“I am thrilled to win the ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year award for a second time. Winning back-to-back awards for my performances in this format is something I could only dream about when I made my international debut. I have put my heart and soul into playing for my country and to see my efforts rewarded with such a prestigious honour is very humbling,” Suryakumar was quoted in a ICC statement released on Wednesday.
In 60 Twenty20 matches, SKY, as he is fondly known for his fans, has amassed 2,141 runs at an average of 45. Coming in at No 7, the strike rate is phenomenal at 171.55 with four hundreds and 17 half-centuries. In the third T20I against South Africa, Suryakumar reached a career landmark by becoming only the second player with the most ‘Player of the Match’ awards in Men’s T20Is, 14 from 60 matches. He tails Virat Kohli, who won has won the award 15 times in 115 matches.
In comparison, his ODI performances has come a cropper, scoring 773 runs in 37 innings at an average of 25.76. A baffling contrast.
What is the reason in such drastic dip in performance. Why is it happening? A big question that even Suryakumar Yadav must be searching the answers for. His mental fortitude, defensive technique and adaptability to rotate the strike were all analysed threadbare.
Former Indian captain Kapil Dev believes that Suryakumar Yadav can be successful not just in ODIs, even in the longest format.
“Suryakumar Yadav is not just one dimensional player. You can also talk about Cheteshwar Pujara. He is such a great Test player but didn’t get chance to play in Twenty20,” the Indian legend, who celebrated his 65th birthday in Dubai, told Gulf News. “I feel you need to give Suryakumar more confidence. Once he gets his mindset properly organised, then he can play any format.”
Among a host of highlights during the calendar year, the 33-year-old batter from Mumbai smashed a belligerent 112 not out off 51 balls against Sri Lanka in Rajkot early in 2023 and finished with 100 off 56 deliveries against South Africa in Johannesburg while also notching up five half-centuries.
But the Indian batter sustained an injury in South Africa and underwent a surgery in Germany after experiencing sports hernia.
“Surgery done. I want to thank everyone for their concerns and well wishes for my health, and I am happy to tell you all that I will be back very soon,” Surya posted on X (formerly Twitter).
Former India opener Wasim Jaffer, who also hails from Mumbai where the batters are nurtured with strong basics of the game at the grassroots level, is confident SKY will be able to reproduce the same form in ODIs.
“To be honest, I am also really surprised, because he’s such a good player. He’s got a very fantastic first class and Listed A record and got double hundreds in longer version of domestic league. Now that he has specialised himself in T20 format and knows how he needs to play it. But in ODIs sometimes when you’ve got too many overs left, then it can be a little complex. Probably he is going through that. I feel it’s a matter of time before he cracks that code because a good player is always a good player. I am not sure if he will become world No 1 in ODI, but once he comes good Indian cricket will prosper,” said the coach who was part of the Bangladesh Under-19 teams’ successful run in the Asia Cup in UAE.
The immediate task for Suryakumar Yadav, however, after his recovery will be the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the West Indies and USA in June this year.
“I hope to continue this success alongside my teammates for what will be a huge year of T20I cricket ahead, with the Men’s T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies just around the corner,” he added.