Suryakumar Yadav’s value as the ultimate match-winner came to the fore once again on Saturday. An unbeaten 51-ball 112 flattened Sri Lanka in the third T20I here, giving India a 2-1 series win.
In scoring his third T20I century in the span of six months, Suryakumar has established himself as the white-ball crown jewel of this Indian team.
For skipper Hardik Pandya, life is good when Suryakumar clicks. “Today it felt like Sri Lanka versus Surya. It makes my life very easy. Surya is so important for us in white-ball cricket. He changes the game. The way he plays his shots actually breaks the morale of the bowler, and that helps other batters as well,” Hardik said at the post-match press conference.
Knows his role
Suryakumar is well aware of his strengths, so there is little reason for Hardik to give him advice. “You don’t tell Surya anything (before he goes in to bat). The sort of form he is in, and the clarity he has — you don’t have to speak to him. He does not doubt his ability, and that’s the reason for his success in this format,” Hardik said.
Suryakumar was given the ideal platform for launch by Rahul Tripathi.
Tripathi, playing his second T20I, shifted the momentum India’s way by blazing a 16-ball 35 in the PowerPlay.
“A special mention of Rahul — the kind of intent he showed can change the momentum of the game. The next batter thought there was something in the wicket, but because of his innings, all of a sudden that ball stopped moving and the bowlers changed their lengths. Then Sri Lanka was chasing the game,” Hardik said.
The Indian team has for long spoken about playing aggressive cricket in T20Is, but this has not always come to fruition on the field. The third T20I, however, went with the script, with the batters showing good intent from start to finish.
Hardik admitted that this approach was made easy by the batting-friendly Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium pitch. The key would be to retain this mindset when the pitch is not as helpful, Hardik said.
“It’s not that we have to always hit. There might be a case where we do the same thing and score 150. You look for boundaries, and with a good ball, you go for a single. But if you think defensive on the first ball itself, you won’t even be able to put away the bad balls. The intent and aggression is more important on a tricky wicket,” he said.