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Suryakumar Yadav interview: ‘Once in the middle of an innings, Virat bhai told me “tu video game khel raha hai kya?’

SURYAKUMAR Yadav is experiencing a purple patch in white-ball cricket at the international level, and is now eyeing a berth in the Indian Test team. The Mumbai middle-order batsman will be in action during the Ranji Trophy game against Hyderabad starting at the MCA-BKC ground on Tuesday. In a chat with The Indian Express, Yadav spoke about his exploits over the past six months, how he himself is amazed at some of the shots he plays, and why he feels a Test call is round the corner.


During the T20 World Cup, everyone wondered how you managed to play 360-degree cricket on a consistent basis? What is your mantra?

I was playing such shots at domestic and IPL level as well, but to do so successfully on the big stage has left even me amazed. The other day, I saw videos of my batting over the past three months. And I told myself “arre, yeh knock meine aise kaise khel diya? How did I do this? I saw it on social media and it kept on repeating on my timeline. So I watched it all.

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What was the team’s impression when you played such kind of strokes?

Rohit (Sharma) is the only one who has seen me for a very long time. But this season, he saw so many knocks that a time came when he didn’t tell me anything. In a few games, he said “mujhe ab kuchh bolna nahi abhi tere baare mein (Now I don’t have anything to say about you)”. Once I was batting with Virat (Kohli) bhai, and he came and told me “tu video game khel raha hai kya? Alag chal raha hai tera bhi (Are you playing video games? You are at a different level).” It felt nice to hear these things.

I spoke to Rahul (Dravid) bhai too. When he saw my innings like these, he came and told me that the position at which I bat, I can go and change the game. When he became India coach, I went and told him once that when the match is between the 7-14 over stage, please send me out to bat. I have batted in that situation plenty of times for Mumbai Indians. I know how to score runs in that particular situation. My mind was clear and I just went and told him. He agreed and told me to express myself whenever I go out to bat.

Rohit Sharma once said that you carry the most suitcases in the team. Any reason?

(Laughs) My wife travels with me. So a few suitcases are added, especially when we are travelling abroad. It could be cold or hot weather. There are shoes for different outfits (laughs).

What he (Rohit) meant is did I carry extra baggage once I come out to bat? I had told him that whatever extra baggage I have in terms of planning, I leave it on the ground. When I’m on the ground, I don’t think about anything else. And whether I have scored or not, I never discuss cricket with anyone once I’m back, until and unless we players are seated together.

So what do you do once you are back in your room?

I watch my videos once I’m back. I try to read situations and learn from my teammates.

Do you have any rituals before you go out to bat?

I don’t have any, actually. I just sit near the dugout and watch the entire game without looking here and there. I don’t watch the TV nearby. I just like to warm up near the boundary before I go out to bat. I always sprint when I go out to bat. That’s the only excitement I have. Every second ball, I will stretch, will keep my bat in my hand and roll it to get the feel of it.

The reason I sprint to the ground is to feel my legs get free till the time I reach the middle. What if I have to run three runs on the first ball? Aisa na ho ki body thandi hai (The body should not be cold).

As a batsman, when do you feel that everything is right?

The bat sound makes me feel that aaj apna din hai (today is my day). At the same time, it’s difficult to be in the present because my mind tells me that I can score a lot today. It’s important to be in the present. Like in the first T20 World Cup game, I scored 10 runs off the first three balls. I had got a head start. In that situation, if anyone scores a 25-ball 50, the match is done. I got out as I felt ki aaj bada lagega (score a lot). My mindset has always been to change the game.

Which innings, according to you, was the defining knock for SKY?

AP22303444256210 LAPTOP MEPF9DO5 India’s Suryakumar Yadav gestures after scoring 50 runs during the T20 World Cup cricket match between the India and South Africa in Perth, Australia, Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Gary Day)

I think that half-century against South Africa in Perth was the defining knock for me. It was the most challenging wicket I have faced till date. Before the game, I went to bat in the nets for 15 minutes and I got the feeling of Perth there itself. The practice pitches were quick. So I faced a mere 15 balls and told Vicky paaji (batting coach Vikram Rathod) that I am done for the day, whatever batting is to be done will be done in the match.

When I went in to bat, I told myself ki yeh pitch toh sochne se bhi jyada tez hai (this pitch is quicker than I thought). So, when I went to the non-striker’s end, I kept thinking which shots I could play as there was bounce too. When we were 49 for 5, we had nothing to lose. We could have got all out for 75, but I decided to take the positive route.

Who is the person in the team whom you can call whenever you are in doubt?

I share a good rapport with Rohit, so I talk to him. I give my views and take his view too.

Your wife says you watch a lot of movies?

I like to watch Andaz Apna Apna, Chup Chup Ke, Golmaal, Hulchul, Heri Pheri. I can watch them endless times. Be it a World Cup game or any other game, I will watch it in my room on my phone. My wife has asked me to maintain a work-life balance.

Did you feel the change once you came back home?

Everywhere I’m going, I have been chased by people, which is new for me. Every Indian I met in Australia or New Zealand, even at the Singapore airport, a couple screamed “Suryakumar Yadav, how are you.” I was shocked and wondered why they are doing this, aisa mein kya kar diya (what have I done)?. I ran to catch my flight. There has been a change for sure. I’m the same as before, just my time has changed. Now the family knows that it won’t be easy to travel with them. Earlier we used to go out for family dinners or a movie. These are the things I enjoyed, but now I know there will be restrictions.

Everyone is saying you should be picked for Test cricket now?

I feel I’m close. I have played this format. I have an idea of red-ball cricket because we all start from red-ball cricket. Yes, conditions are challenging but if you can apply your mind and alter your game, you can succeed.

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