Suryakumar Yadav takes fresh guard

Sometimes the bigger challenge in sport is not getting to the top but staying there. Suryakumar Yadav’s tale bears testament to this. For, in his 20-match-old first-class career, the 23-year-old has already experienced a rollercoaster innings. Touted as the future of Mumbai cricket only a few years ago, Yadav could not live up to his early expectations.

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav during Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy match against Rajasthan in 2011. Pic/Suresh KK.

Yadav admitted distractions and ignorance had hampered his progress, but is quick to add that he has learnt from his mistakes and is keen to make amends this season.

Yadav is expected to play a key role for Mumbai in the absence of a few senior players against a young Odisha side in today’s Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ clash at the Wankhede Stadium. In fact, Yadav couldn’t have asked for a better opponent than Odisha to get back among runs. It was against the same opponent in the 2011-12 Ranji season that Yadav slammed a magnificent 200 en route to guiding Mumbai to a win.

Suryakumar Yadav
Suryakumar Yadav during Mumbai’s practice session yesterday

“Yes, this is a crucial season for me. I have not scored well in the last season. This season too I have been getting half-centuries, but it is important to convert those starts into huge hundreds,” Yadav, who has scored two fifties in this season so far, told MiD DAY yesterday. Yadav first made news with an impressive 73 on his Mumbai Ranji Trophy debut against Delhi in 2010-11 season. Unfortunately, it was the only match he played that season.

The next season, Yadav burst onto the national stage in style, amassing 754 runs in nine Ranji Trophy matches to emerge as the fourth highest run-scorer of the season. His performances even earned him a spot with Indian Premier League franchise Mumbai Indians. It was then that Yadav got a little caught up in the glitz of the IPL. Yadav was spotted sporting the trendiest hairstyles and beards and even pierced an ear.

‘Learnt my lesson’
“I have learnt my lesson. It is cricket that has given me an identity. Well, nothing of those (trendy looks, etc) was intentional, but it happened because I had more time on my hands. I never bothered about training too much, be it spending time at the nets or working on my physical fitness. I would just bat for 15-20 minutes and that’s it.

“I realised it was not working. They were a distraction. So, after I started putting more efforts into my training and preparations, all these things (new looks and hairstyles) took a back seat. I don’t even get time to think about it now,” said Yadav, who has inked his parents’ names on his right hand.

The 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season was an eye-opener for a woefully out-of-form Yadav. Yadav, who was dropped from the Mumbai squad after just four matches, could not do justice to his selection in the India ‘A’ team against New Zealand ‘A’ in October last year and was consequently sent back to the Mumbai U-25 squad.

Just as it seemed that his initial burst had fizzled out, he was asked to lead the India U-23 side at the Asian Cricket Council Emerging Team tournament in Singapore in August this year. That was his first major responsibility and Yadav did not disappoint, leading Team India to the title.

“The responsibility helped me become more focused. I understood that I cannot just whack every ball for a four or a six. I learnt to be patient. I started spending more time at the crease. My seniors in the Mumbai team also helped me. Spending time in the Mumbai Indians dressing room and watching the international players prepare was also beneficial. I know my responsibility in the Mumbai team now. They expect a good knock from me,” he signed off.

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