Suryakumar had been under pressure, recording three consecutive ducks against the same opposition earlier this year and yet to nail the format and walked in to join captain KL Rahul at the crease with India needing 92 runs from 105 balls to win.
Suryakumar showed restraint in shot-selection and calmness in the situation, making a 49-ball 50, a much-needed third half-century in the format to ease questions on his 50-over adaptability.
“I have been wondering what has been happening. The colour of the ball is the same. The teams are the same. The bowlers are the same. I think I was hurrying a bit. I thought, let’s take a little bit more time. Calm myself, take it slowly and try and bat deep,” he said after the match ended.
Suryakumar stopped premeditating and hardly ever swept any deliveries. Before losing to Sean Abbott, spectators saw a totally different and more composed version of Suryakumar, from the ramp to the perfect and textbook straight drives.
“That was what I was dreaming of when I started playing this format. Try and bat till the end as much as possible and finish the game for the team. I couldn’t do that but definitely loving my new role,” he added.
In a game where four Indian hitters, including the openers Shubman Gill and Ruturaj Gaikwad, hammered half-centuries, Rahul once again stepped up under pressure, smashing a 63-ball 58 with four boundaries and the game-winning lofted six to seal a decisive victory with eight balls remaining.
“I went in a tricky situation after keeping for 50 overs, it was tough for the middle order batters starting, but had a good partnership with Surya. We kept talking about hitting good cricket shots,” he said.
Rahul also praised his side’s fitness levels despite the extreme heat and humidity. “It was as hot as Colombo and really humid. I think the commitment that the boys showed. We were put under pressure in the middle. We started really well with the ball. But the middle overs were tough. We’ve been talking about staying committed for 50 overs and we’ve all been working really hard on our fitness so that’s showing.”
Australia skipper Pat Cummins was happy in getting back to playing international cricket, but rued his team’s inability to get over the line. “Personally I’m happy I’m back. First game for a little while. Good to get our first game here in India. Disappointing we didn’t get over the line. I thought a few guys batted well and a few guys bowled well.”
(With IANS inputs)