Perth Airport, the day after India lost to South Africa. The Indian team was flying to Adelaide for their next game against Bangladesh. Unusually, but for obvious reasons, there was a large Indian element to the travellers at the airport that day. As usual, the gathered travellers were expectant of meeting their heroes in person.

Virat Kohli, having just had his hotel room invaded, walked around with a personal bodyguard. Everyone was asked to maintain their distance from him, and his sullen mood that day was understandable. Another group of players loitered around, not getting as much attention, KL Rahul among them. Then, walked in Rohit Sharma at the very end, with his family and what seemed like an entourage. Only, it wasn’t.

Among that group of people, there was one guy wearing silver shades, almost basking in all the attention he was generating. This was Suryakumar Yadav, the hero so far of India’s 2022 T20 World Cup campaign. Only a few hours ago, he had walked out to bat on the quickest, most fiery wicket in his career. Not to mention – facing that pace, movement and bounce – he had smacked the Proteas’ attack to all parts of the Optus Stadium.

Star, indeed.


AFP & Reuters

This is the big change in India’s T20I blueprint in 2022. They went to the 2021 World Cup in the UAE still banking on the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul to do the job. It didn’t work out as per plan, and since then, the team has rallied around Suryakumar Yadav as a focal point.

Sample this. In the last 12 months since 2021 T20 World Cup, Yadav’s strike-rate is over 180 in T20Is. His strike rate has been 100 or below in five innings out of 31 in that period and two of those were immediately after the World Cup, in the home series against New Zealand. He batted at number three in two of those three games, returning only 63 runs, 62 of them coming in just one knock. For those seeking a non-Kohli answer to why he doesn’t bat at number three, this was partly it.

Suryakumar Yadav in T20Is

Inns Runs Ave SR 50s/100s 4s 6s
Since end of 2021 WC 31 1089 41.88 182.71 10 / 1 99 62
In 2022 28 1026 44.60 186.54 9 / 1 93 59

The other bit is to do with the freedom that comes with batting at four. More times than not, he doesn’t come out to bat until the powerplay is over. The field is spread, and Yadav is able to find gaps, or go over them, as per his whims. The added pressure to provide a wholesome start to the innings doesn’t apply. That is, if Yadav can feel any pressure at all.

“I enjoy batting at four. My plan is simple; hit the boundaries, find the gaps and run hard,” he said, after smacking 51 not out off 25 balls against the Netherlands at Sydney.

That knock was par for course. Give him 20 balls, and he will invariably deliver close to 40 runs for the team. Since that New Zealand series at home, Yadav has batted at a strike-rate of 200 (or beyond) nine times in 28 innings.

And there is more. In the same interim, he has scored at 180-plus another five times, and at 170-plus another three times. Overall, a whopping 17 out of 28 T20I innings this year, Yadav has batted at a 170-plus strike-rate. If you call this a purple patch, he has only gone and made it a shade deeper. Almost red-hot.

SKY in T20Is when more than 20 balls faced

Runs BF SR Opposition Ground Start Date
117 55 212.72 v England Nottingham 10 Jul 2022
76 44 172.72 v West Indies Basseterre 2 Aug 2022
62 40 155.00 v New Zealand Jaipur 17 Nov 2021
68 40 170.00 v South Africa Perth 30 Oct 2022
69 36 191.66 v Australia Hyderabad (Deccan) 25 Sep 2022
50 34 147.05 v Sri Lanka Colombo (RPS) 25 Jul 2021
50* 33 151.51 v South Africa Thiruvananthapuram 28 Sep 2022
57 31 183.87 v England Ahmedabad 18 Mar 2021
65 31 209.67 v West Indies Eden Gardens 20 Feb 2022
34 29 117.24 v Sri Lanka Dubai (DSC) 6 Sep 2022
68* 26 261.53 v Hong Kong Dubai (DSC) 31 Aug 2022
46 25 184.00 v Australia Mohali 20 Sep 2022
51* 25 204.00 v Netherlands Sydney 27 Oct 2022
61* 25 244.00 v Zimbabwe Melbourne 6 Nov 2022
61 22 277.27 v South Africa Guwahati 2 Oct 2022

Is it mind-boggling that he scores at such a fast clip every time he bats, or more so, that he has done it consistently over such a lengthy time period? You decide.

Scoring at this pace has helped Yadav notch up a 1000-plus runs in T20I cricket in this calendar year. The only other instance of a similar feat is Mohammad Rizwan scoring 1326 runs in 2021, and he opens for Pakistan. It is an awe-inducing statistic, not in coherence with how T20s pan out. Usually a number four batter doesn’t exert as much influence in terms of volume of run-scoring.

The evidence for India’s current set-up though disagrees. In this T20 World Cup, India really struggled on the one night Yadav failed. That was against Pakistan, wherein Kohli had to conjure all his magical powers for victory.

At times, Yadav has batted on an altogether different wicket to the other Indian batters. Perth, again, is a pertinent example, if you don’t want to look too far behind. On a pitch too raging for others, Yadav put on an exhibition in T20 batting. Cuts, and pulls, and some unorthodoxy encapsulated within, his 68 off 40 balls almost did the job for India.

How does he do it? Whereas other Indian batters struggled to find an answer to Lungi Ngidi’s bounce, Yadav calmly shuffled and got behind the short ball, swung away and smacked him for six.

“The way T20 cricket is played, bowlers try to dominate overs 7 to 15. I try to attack at that time, and get as many boundaries as possible (to put pressure back on them),” he explained, in an interview to the ICC (in Perth).


There is a method to his madness... and you won’t find it watching him bat in the nets. Therein, he is calmness personified. In a highly intense net session before the Pakistan game, he played one partly unorthodox shot out of 30, a ramp cut over slip for four. ONE.

When he arrives in the middle, it is almost as if a switch flicks on in Yadav’s mind. Orthodoxy mingles and fades away into unorthodoxy, and he tears up the textbook. Against the pacers, Yadav seldom comes too far forward, waiting and using the depth of his crease to get inside the line. Against the spinners, the sub-continental batter comes forth, and Yadav uses his feet more, getting forward with aplomb. To go 360, he generates power through his wrists.

“If you look at the boundary here, it is 80-84 meters, here the square boundary is also 75-80 meters big. I think just the rear boundary is small which is 60-65 metres. So I look at hitting in that direction and I have been successful in that,” he told R Ashwin in a chat for

“When I was young, I used to play cricket with a lot of rubber balls with my friends. They used to bowl fast with the wet ball from 17-18 yards. These shots came from there. I did not practice these shots in the nets,”

It is no wonder Yadav doesn’t practice the shots he plays, and the impact is everlasting. It leaves those bowling, and watching, equally befuddled. Take the Zimbabwe game, for example.

Their bowlers tried bowling wide at the death, as much as the sixth stump outside off. What did he do? He fetched the ball from that far wide, used his wrists in almost a helicopter shot, and deposited it for six 80 metres over the square leg fence. Then, an over later, he repeated that shot, this time smacking it over fine leg.

82000 at the MCG roared – they had just been repaid their money’s worth.

“He is a 360 degree player, so difficult to bowl to,” said Zimbabwe skipper Craig Ervine. “He is India’s biggest threat,” said Dutch bowler Paul van Meekeren. “He is a rare talent, to be able to bat like that, from IPL to T20Is,” said Shane Watson, former Australian cricketer. “He is incredible,” said Indian coach Rahul Dravid, grinning ear-to-ear on Sunday.

Jos Buttler, and his England, know all of this, only too well. The question to ask is what are they going to do about Suryakumar Yadav?

Statistics courtesy ESPNCricinfo Statsguru