There was a lot riding on Suryakumar Yadav even before he set his foot on the lush green turf in Cuttack to take on Madhya Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy semi-final.
Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav. File pic
The former Mumbai skipper created a stir with a critical tweet on team selection, ruing opener Jay Bista's exclusion for the semis. Mumbai's chief selector Milind Rege hit back at Yadav with a tongue-in-cheek remark after Bista's match-winning ton in the Mumbai U-23 quarter-final win over Baroda.
Yadav's duck in the first innings for Mumbai made matters only worse for him. Mumbai posted 371 and then bowled out Madhya Pradesh for 227. Yadav, however, came out shinning in the second innings with a 115-run knock as the former Mumbai skipper and the current captain Aditya Tare (109) posted the highest partnership of the match — 217 runs for the fourth wicket, taking the match completely out of MP's hands.
Mumbai scored 426 to set MP a mammoth 571-run target in little more than four sessions to chase. MP managed 361 for five on the last day yesterday with the match ending in a draw and Mumbai progressing to the final by virtue of a first innings lead. Aiming their 41st title, Mumbai reached the Ranji Trophy final for the 45th time and will meet Saurashtra in a repeat of 2012-13 summit clash.
"I was under pressure. There were butterflies in my stomach. I was out for a duck in the first innings, so this knock was crucial. More so from the team's perspective as it was important that we set MP a huge target. Personally, it is a very satisfying knock as I was able to deliver when the team needed the most. I backed myself. With the flow that I was in, I didn't even see the scorecard while batting," Yadav told mid-day from Cuttack.
Yadav said the plan was to bat Madhya Pradesh out of the game. "Tare and myself wanted to get the team to a comfortable position. We didn't want to leave it mid-way. We set ourselves 50-run targets before starting all over again. The aim was to bat MP out of the match," said Yadav.
Coming back to his tweet, Yadav said: "I regret it. It was not a good coming from someone who is in the playing XI. It was done out of anger. The Mumbai team is my second family. It has given me everything. I have apologised to the selection committee chief (Rege)."
Mumbai 371 & 426 (S Yadav 115, A Tare 109, A Nayar 73*; H Singh 3-55, I Pandey 3-103, P Datey 2-48) vs MP 227 & 361-5 (N Ojha 113, H Singh 105, A Shrivastava 68; B Thakkar 1-3, S Thakur 1-46)