As cliched as the pun is, for Suryakumar Yadav, only sky’s the limit. The 31-year-old was once again at his T20 best against Hong Kong in India’s second group stage fixture in the 2022 Asia Cup with a 26-ball-68 that propelled India to the score of 192.
Partnering him at the non-striker’s end was Virat Kohli, who finished his unbeaten innings at 59 off 44 deliveries. The former India captain, whose gesture of bowing to his India teammate at the end of the innings won over the social media, was all praise for Suryakumar even after the match ended.
“I was completely blown away,” Kohli said in a BCCI video about his experience of watching India’s number four bat at a strike rate exceeding 250 from the non-striker’s end.
Of two stellar knocks, a dominating partnership, mutual admirations & much more 💥👌
— BCCI (@BCCI) September 1, 2022
“It was a brilliant knock. To watch it from the other end…I’ve seen so many from distance when you play in the IPL against us or that being done to a lot of teams but this was my first experience of watching it very closely,” he added, further asking the Mumbai based batter about his preparation and mindset with regards to how he structured his innings.
“Firstly I loved batting with him….”Suryakumar said pointing towards Kohli.
“When I was sitting inside, me, Rishabh, we were speaking about how do we take this game forward as the wicket was a little slow. When I went in to bat, I just tried to be myself…what I do and what I love doing. So, it was really simple plan. Taking first 10 balls, I wanted to hit three-four boundaries at that time. And when I got that I just kept batting.”
The 31-year-old further explained on how he needed the former India captain alongside him to progress the way he did with his quickfire innings.
“At that moment, I knew I needed you there. That’s why I told you to just bat from one end. It will be easy for you to cover on later because I’ve seen you a lot of times. When you bat 30-35 balls, your next 10 balls you bat with a strike rate of 200-250. So it was important for me that you stay there so I bat freely till the 20th over.”
SKY’s innings took off in the 20th over when he dispatched Haroon Arshad for four maximums, with three of them coming on the first three deliveries of the over. As he and his former Team India captain sat in the green of the Dubai International Stadium post match, Kohli asked the player of the match if he felt like he could’ve targeted another two sixes and become only the second Indian to hit perfect six off six in the format.
“I was trying my best but….let’s not get past Yuvi paa,” Suryakumar replied as the duo burst out laughing.
Kohli: “My job is to stabilise the innings and build a partnership”
Later in their conversation Suryakumar Yadav pressed his partner in strike to share his mindset as he took the field with India having lost an early wicket in the powerplay.
“My plan was very simple as in the last game,” said Kohli. “I’ve come off a decent break, month and a half. Six weeks is a long time, especially at the international level when you get out of touch with the game. I came mentally fresh. So I really enjoyed my batting in the last game as well against a quality attack.”
He further added, “I kind of got the pace off the wicket. But I knew my job is to kind of stabilise the innings and build a partnership with whoever I bat with. And in between, when the situation allows me to, then take a risk and hit a boundary every now and then.”
Kohli then explained how India’s number four coming in the middle helped him in just holding the other end.
“When you came in, I told you I’m going to keep going, but when you started and gave me a clear indication of how you are feeling and my role immediately changed back to holding one end so that as you said that you could go out and express yourself almost every ball,” the 33-year-old said.
“That is something I enjoy doing, staying in there when I am set…so even if, god forbid, you didn’t get those runs, then I could take charge or we have Rishabh or in another game we have Hardik and Dinesh (Karthik) and Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) as well.”