‘SKY’ has consistently showcased his style and class in the realm of T20 cricket, where he has effortlessly asserted his dominance.
Nonetheless, there have been instances of concern regarding his performance in ODIs, as he seemed to struggle in adapting his all-or-nothing approach to the 50-over format, which demands a more balanced approach.
However, in the recent match at the challenging batting conditions of Ekana Stadium during the ongoing World Cup, Suryakumar tapped into his inner Mumbaikar essence to deliver an innings that deserves high praise for its responsibility and substance.
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Scoring 49 runs off 47 balls on a pitch where it was exceptionally challenging to play with a straightforward front-foot approach demonstrated precisely why the team management had more faith in his abilities compared to some other players who missed the opportunity to be part of the World Cup.
Notably, Surya not only improved his standing but also placed considerable pressure on Shreyas Iyer as they move forward in the upcoming matches.
Hardik Pandya, who is nursing a left ankle grade 1 sprain (damage to fibers of ligament), is expected to come back towards the business end of the league stage and a debate could ensue who should stay in playing XI: Iyer who is enduring a low string of scores or Surya who has proved what he could do in critical situations.
“We all know what Surya can do in T20Is. What was impressive was how he read the situation and was ready to play the second fiddle till Rohit was at the crease. It was a top class innings keeping conditions in mind and he only played his customary pick-up shot behind square when he knew that it is time to attack,” former national selector Jatin Paranjape said.
“On Sunday, you saw that ‘khadoos’ Mumbaikar in Surya where he was ready to show the other side of his batting. And if you ask me about what happens when Hardik comes back, I would like to see Surya continue in his role and KL (Rahul) can bat at No. 4 in place of Shreyas Iyer,” opined Paranjape.
For someone with a hitting-range like that of Surya and those 360 degree shot, it was heartening to see him honour the conditions rather than the bowlers.
He employed the difficult sweep shot after gauging that both off-spinner Moeen Ali and leg-spinner Adil Rashid are getting reasonable purchase off the track. He didn’t try to sweep the spinners against the turn but with it.
Head coach Rahul Dravid has always spoken about Surya needing to find some more scoring areas as his hitting range has been primarily square and behind the wicket in T20 cricket.
In shortest format, that isn’t an issue but in 50 overs, there is a middle phase where rotation of strike becomes paramount.
A look at Surya’s scoring chart will show that he has taken 19 singles and at least 15 of them came in-front of the square as he kept the scoreboard ticking.
“He knew that it wasn’t a 280-plus track and 240 would be a fighting total. He changed his game accordingly and that was the best part,” former India keeper Deep Dasgupta, who is now a noted commentator, said.
Dasgupta, who is tracking the Indian team for the host broadcaster, also agreed that Surya has a strong case for keeping his place in playing eleven when Hardik comes back.
“There are two ways to describe a lean patch. One where you look good but you are not getting runs and Shreyas isn’t looking in great touch. And if you talk about sticking to specific roles, then I believe number 5 and 6 are interchangeable. SKY and Hardik can both fill-up the roles as per game situation,” Dasgupta said.
(With PTI Inputs)