Suryakumar making his enormous talent count

He now has the record for most runs — 732 — by an Indian in a a calendar year

He now has the record for most runs — 732 — by an Indian in a a calendar year

When men like Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting praise a batter, he has to be special. The West Indies legend was impressed by Suryakumar Yadav quite some time before he made his international debut.

“Has he played for India?” Lara asked his colleagues in the commentary box during the 2019 IPL. Ponting sees a bit of A.B. de Villiers in Suryakumar. The former Australian captain said as much a few weeks ago, while talking of batters of the 360-degree kind. It is not just the way Suryakumar bats that makes him stand out. It is also the way he responds to different situations.

On Wednesday night at the Greenfield Stadium here against South Africa in the first T20I, he came in after India recorded its lowest PowerPlay score. Granted that the target was just 107, but the wicket wasn’t easy to bat on, and there was enough for the bowlers, particularly South Africa’s world-class pace attack.

Simple response

Suryakumar’s response to the challenge was simple: he sent the second and third balls he faced, from Anrich Nortje, for six — one a top-edge and the other a typically gorgeous wristy flick over square-leg. He went on to make an unbeaten 33-ball 50 to take India home, his second match-winning innings in a row, following the superb 36-ball 69 against Australia at Hyderabad. K.L. Rahul, with whom he added 93 for the unfinished third wicket, said after the match that his job was made easier by Suryakumar’s aggressive approach.

The Mumbai batter now has the record for most runs — 732 — by an Indian in a calendar year, beating Shikhar Dhawan’s mark (689). Not surprisingly, he is also heading the batting chart in T20Is this year. His T20I record — 976 runs at a strike-rate of 173.35 and an average of 39.04 — is not bad at all for someone who had to wait for more than a decade to earn his India cap after making his First Class debut. India will want those statistics to look even better after the T20 World Cup in Australia. Cricket fans will want that swagger to continue.

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