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Suryakumar Yadav - India time coming after key improvement?

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Since 2018, Suryakumar Yadav has been the epitome of consistency in the Indian T20 League, consistently producing valuable knocks and making enough runs for the national team selectors to sit up and take notice. 

In his last three seasons, including 2020 (after the game against Rajasthan), Suryakumar Yadav has had batting averages in nearly the same range - 36.57 (2018), 32.61 (2019) and 31.44 (2020). There have been discussions surrounding his selection to the Indian team countless times in these three years. 

Suryakumar knocked off 512 and 424 runs in the 2018 and 2019 seasons respectively, and with India's T20 side screaming out for a player like that - especially when Shikhar Dhawan was faltering and KL Rahul hadn't quite arrived - it seemed bizarre that Suryakumar was never called up.

He is the highest run-scorer in the Indian T20 League from the uncapped category - a stat that shows how consistent he has been over the years, and especially after moving to Mumbai under Rohit Sharma.

But more than ever before, 2020 has shown that Suryakumar is ready to knock that door down finally, especially with an Australia tour in the offing later this year. 

What really has changed then for Suryakumar in this season of the tournament?

The simple, obvious, straightforward answer is 'batting strike-rate'.

A look at Suryakumar Yadav's batting strike-rate year by year in the Indian T20 League shows why 2020 has been massive for him.

  • 2014 - 140.17
  • 2015 - 138.93
  • 2016 - 130.06
  • 2017 - 119.31
  • 2018 - 133.33
  • 2019 - 130.86
  • 2020 - 148.94

Not only has Suryakumar racked up runs easily, he has also scored at the quickest rate at which he has ever scored in the league. While he touched the 140s in his second year in the tournament (He scored 0 runs in 2012, his first year) in 2014, this is the first time he has scored over 200 runs and scored at over a strike-rate of 135.

148 is an elite T20 batting strike-rate, particularly for someone who isn't known as a big hitter or bats way too much in the death. This season, most of his runs have come in the middle overs too. 

164 of his 283 runs have come between overs 7 and 16 in the 2020 edition of the tournament. These have come at a strike-rate of 136.7, but notably, he has dominated the spinners which is a rare quality to have in this phase of the innings.

Bowling Type Runs Balls Dismissals Average Strike Rate
Spin 100 71 2 50 140.85
Pace 64 49 2 32 130.61

Table: Suryakumar Yadav in middle overs in 2020 Indian T20 League.

The middle overs usually see teams go slightly conservative to save up for the death overs. Most of the teams have their key, anchor batsmen batting in this phase and Suryakumar is certainly from that category considering the men to come below him - Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya. 

However, he has had terrific intent in this phase as proven by the fact that he scores at 10 runs per over quicker vs spin in comparison to pace in this phase. 

By taking down the spinners in this period, Suryakumar has laid the platform for the death overs big hitters to carry on from. In the 11 balls he has had to bat into the death in the 2020 season, Suryakumar has scored 27 runs, striking at a rate of 245.5. 

When he has had to come out earlier in the powerplay, Yadav has scored at 155.9 in the first six overs, elite by all means. 

The fact that he adapts his game to the situation and takes down bowlers with intent has made a whole lot of difference to the enticing package he already was in 2018 and 2019. With India in search of the perfect no.4 in this format of the game, Suryakumar is rising well above the likes of Shreyas Iyer and Manish Pandey with his exuberant batting this season. Finally, it might be time for the selectors to welcome him in. 

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Indranil Mukherjee

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