May 21, 2024
Suryakumar Yadav
48 / 100

Suryakumar Yadav’s innings against Hong Kong on Wednesday “changed the momentum of the game on a pitch that wasn’t as easy as he made it look,” according to Virat Kohli, who was “completely blown away” by it.

For the third wicket, Kohli and Suryakumar had an unbroken partnership of 98 runs off 42 balls, each scoring a different half-century. And India wasn’t able to pick up the pace and post a total of 192 for 2 in Dubai until Suryakumar entered the game with seven overs remaining.

“SKY played an outstanding knock, a knock that I enjoyed thoroughly from the other end,” Kohli said during a conversation with Suryakumar for “I’ve seen so many innings when we play in the IPL [against each other], or that being done to other teams, but this was my first experience of watching very closely. I was completely blown away. I honestly believe that the way you played today, if you can stay in that zone, you can literally change the complexion of the game against any team in the world.”

India’s innings was split into two distinct halves. While Kohli was not as rusty, he still had to work hard for his runs in the first innings because KL Rahul only managed to score 36 runs off 39 balls, which was his slowest T20I innings in which he faced at least 30 deliveries.

Suryakumar joined Kohli in the middle when he was on 33 and swept his first two balls to the deep square-leg boundary. In his first ten deliveries, he hit four fours and a six, setting the stage for a masterclass in 360-degree batting.

“When I was sitting inside, me and Rishabh [Pant] were speaking about how we could take game this ahead as the wicket was a little slow,” Suryakumar said. “When I went into bat, I tried to just be myself and do what I love doing. It was a really simple plan: taking the first 10 balls, I wanted to hit three-four boundaries and when I got that, I just kept batting.”

Suryakumar reached his half-century in just 22 balls, which is the fastest time in a T20 international, using scoops, sweeps, flicks, and two incredible sixes over point. In the final over, he hit four sixes to finish unbeaten on 68 off 26 balls, while Kohli was still standing on 59 off 44. In its final five overs, India scored 78 runs.

Kohli reaffirmed how “mentally fresh” he felt right now after returning from a 42-day break. While his half-century against Hong Kong wasn’t the most fluid innings, Kohli was able to pick up the pace toward the end. He had previously returned with an innings of 35 off 34 balls against Pakistan.

“At that moment, I knew I needed you there,” Suryakumar said to Kohli. “That’s why I told you that you just bat from one end, it’ll be easy to cover up because I’ve seen you a lot of times, when you take 30-35 balls, the next 10 balls you bat with a strike rate of 200-250. It was important for me that you stay there so that I bat freely until the 20th over. And the same thing happened. I really enjoyed it.”

“My plan was simple, like in the last game,” Kohli said. “I’ve come off a decent break, month and a half. Six weeks is a long time, especially at the international level when you get out of touch with the game, but I came mentally fresh. So I really enjoyed myself in the last game as well, against a quality attack. I kind of got the pace of the wicket, but I knew my job was to stabilise the innings and build a partnership with whoever I play with. And in between when the situation allows me to, take a risk and find a boundary every now and then.

“But again, when you [Suryakumar] came in, I told you I’m going to keep going but the moment you started and gave me a clear indication of how you’re feeling, my role immediately changed to holding one end. As you said, you could go out and express yourself almost every ball. That is something I enjoy doing, so that even if god forbid you didn’t get those runs, then I could take charge, or we have Rishabh [Pant] or in another game Hardik [Pandya], Dinesh [Karthik] or [Ravindra Jadeja] Jaddu.

“It was just applying whatever knowledge I have accumulated over the years for the benefit of the team. It was nice to get a couple of games where I felt good with my batting. For me, milestones and number of runs are irrelevant, it’s how you feel when you bat, and I felt very good.”

India is the first team from Group A to advance to the Super 4 round of the Asia Cup with victories in both of their games.

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