Kolkata: The wheels of fortune seems to have come a full circle for Suryakumar Yadav. From depths of despair last November when he became a talking point after being ignored for the white ball series in Australia on the back of IPL 2020 in the UAE, the Mumbai batsman - alongwith opener Prithvi Shaw - are on the verge of taking a direct flight to the UK from Sri Lanka on a SoS from the Indian team management there.
Yadav, now 30, was so disappointed at missing the cut despite been one of the pillars behind the Mumbai Indians’ success in the IPL - that his stare-off at Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers Bangalore captain, got amplified in the Indian cricket media was as if he was trying to make a statement. Ravi Shastri, the Indian head coach, had gone on record that Surya’s time will come and the cricketer himself admitted later that he perhaps let the disappointment get better of him.
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In less than nine months, the scenario has undergone a dramatic transformation. Thrust into the No.3 role in the white ball series against England at home, ‘SKY,’ as he is popular among his teammates - looked like a man in supreme touch with an allround ability to keep the scoreboard moving as well as some audacious strokeplay. The streak continued in the one-day series against Sri Lanka in July and with the Indian team management desperately looking for a back-up in the Test team’s middle order with Ajinkya Rahane’s hamstring playing up and Cheteshwar Pujara’s form matter of concern - Surya seemed to be a popular choice.
A strange turn for fate for Surya - whose white ball form may have opened the doors for a Test call-up - though he is actually more than that. Not many may remember that Surya has paid his dues to first class cricket structure of India and has been actually a product of that.
It was more than a decade back in 2010, at the age of 20, Surya was seen as next big thing in Mumbai batting line-up as in his first full Ranji season, he averaged a stunning 68.54, outscoring giants of the domestic set-up like a Wasim Jaffer or Abhishek Nayar. However, his red-ball career has never hit the heights it should have, but an average of 56.44 and the unbelievable one of 95.13 in his last Ranji season (2019-20) should put paid to the claims that he’s only fit for white ball cricket.Suryakumar Yadav (right) and Hardik Pandya celebrate after closing a match for Mumbai Indians in IPL. Image Credit: AFP
May be, it did not help Surya’s case that the likes of Virat Kohli himself, Pujara, Rahane were trying to break into the Test squad almost around the same time - a problem of plenty which shut the doors on a batsman like Rohit Sharma for so long in Test cricket. There is no guarantee that Surya will eventually get a look-in as both KL Rahul and Hanuma Vihari have been part of the set-up for so long, but he has the right blend of experience and strokes to deliver should the chance come.
A possible Test debut will see Surya join the likes of Shardul Thakur and Natarajan - Indian players who have played all three formats in 2021. Even if he doesn’t, the Indian team management can rest easy with the thought that someone like him is waiting in the wings in the longer format - where the Indian middle order suddenly doesn’t look as invincible as before.