It is not just a contest between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semi-final at the Wankhede Stadium today. There's a mini battle going on between Mumbai's Suryakumar Yadav and TN's Abhinav Mukund for in the top run-scorers' list. Yadav, who has scored 669 in eight matches this season, has realistic chance to get past Mukund (825 runs) and claim the third spot.
Surya Kumar Yadav during nets at Wankhede Stadium yesterday.
Rescuing the 39-time champions on several occasions during the league games, Yadav will be the man to watch out for. "I haven't achieved my goal as yet. I want to score 1000 runs in this Ranji season. I can still achieve that. I have two more games to go, so you never know what can happen. I certainly fancy my chances (of making the top three)," Yadav told MiD DAY on the eve of the semi-final clash.
The 21-year-old Yadav has been in prolific form this season, scoring a double hundred and four half centuries. "It's been a dream start for me. Even though I played a game last season against Delhi, I am taking this as my debut season. Playing a full season and scoring runs obviously makes me feel good about it. I am a little disappointed for not making it count in the last few games. I regret playing some silly shots," said Yadav, who has also represented Maharashtra in the state badminton championships a few years ago.
Yadav considers the freedom to play his natural game as a decisive factor in his change in fortunes. "When I started the season, I was told not to take any pressure and just play my natural game. My skipper (Wasim Jaffer) and coach Sulakshan Kulkarni gave me great support. They have given me the license to play my shots, and that's a big boost for me. That's my strength," he said.
"It really helped me when Zaheer Khan came to me just before the Orissa match. He told me, 'I have seen you play junior cricket and you must play your natural game'. And I got a double ton in that game," he chuckled.
Yadav is eager to cash in on his big opportunity in the semis. "It is a big game. If I take pressure, then I will not last long. I don't think about pressure at all. I only focus on scoring runs. It is a huge opportunity for me to do well. Fingers crossed," he signed off.