Mumbai and Mumbai Indians batsman Suryakumar Yadav spoke to The Indian Express on a variety of topics after he was picked for the first time in the Indian team (T20 squad). From his shot-selection, success mantras, tattoos and family, the batsmen was candid during a chat.
How did you feel about checking in with Team India?
I am very excited. It’s like a dream come true. On the first day only, I met a few players. I got positive vibes and energy. Now I am looking forward to practice sessions and later to matches as well.
You are a fabulous player of sweep. How did you become one?
The sweep was always there, because where I used to train there used to be a lot of turning tracks. To counter that I had to do something different. So right from the age of 14-15, I started playing sweep strokes. Slow and steady, maar maar ke aur aadat ban gai. Abhi mazaa aatha hain, shot khelne mein. I love it. (by playing it often, it became a habit. Now I enjoy playing the shot)
Heard you were a serious badminton player.
I used to play badminton initially, for school and state. The problem with badminton was that I didn’t get too much time to be with my friends. Ghar ke bahar rehne milta nahi tha. (Didn’t get too much time to be outside my house) The game is over quickly but in cricket, it starts in the morning and it gets over by evening. So my liking towards cricket grew more.
How did you work towards your success?
I don’t think it was an over overnight success thing. I feel it’s been going on for a long time. But in maybe in 2017 or 18, I realised it’s high time I did some smart work which can help me go one step ahead. So that was the year when I realised and I started working more on my game, started realising what I can do more to become a better batter, which can help me go one step ahead and become a better cricketer.
Did you have conversations with somebody?
Whenever I used to go back to my room after any game or after any tournament, I used to realise what I could have done better and what I can do better in the tournaments to come. So I used to jot down a lot of points, I started working on it, maybe a fitness-related (aspect) or maybe some mental aspect which I needed to cover. So I kept doing those small, small things at the right time. And I knew when the time is right, everything will fall into place. So I just kept on working smartly. And just kept on pushing whatever I needed. At that moment. I kept talking to myself about what I can do better at that time. It was important to know what I needed from myself in that situation. So that helped me a lot during that time.
Did people talking about ‘you deserve to be picked in the team’ affect you? And what kept you going those days?
Not really. Maybe the passion for this game kept driving me. I always used to feel that the more you work hard, the more success you will get in the times to come. I think the love for this game and the passion for this game kept driving me. Obviously when I was amongst the runs, I used to think I will get picked… etc, etc. But at the same time, you got to be in the present. I just thought I’ll try and do what I can do. Right now I have opportunities coming my way and I just need to score runs. So that’s the only thing that kept me motivated.
You had a chat with Mumbai Indians coach Mahela Jayawardene regarding the strike rate. Can you detail that?
In 2019, he sat with me and explained it to me… what I should do in the powerplay and what I should do after powerplay. Obviously, he wanted me to be a better cricketer at that moment and contribute more by being a little more smarter. So he just sat with me and he was like it’s upon you completely. He said only one thing, whenever you’re batting after the powerplay, just try and hit a lot of gaps, take twos, run hard between wickets and the strike rate also will be amazing. So I just did the same thing.
Were there chats regarding your off-side game?
I don’t remember there was any talk regarding offside play. Because when I opened that year, I played all around the park. So there was no talk about the offside play. But yeah, I knew I had to work a lot on my batting again because people will come up with different plans. So I had to cover all the areas or tick all the boxes, which I couldn’t do in the first year with my team.
Can you explain what went behind the reverse scoop to Jofra Archer?
When I got hit on the helmet, I said (to myself) one boundary or six toh marna he padega. (I should hit one four or one six). I went to Hardik and said yeh wala stroke banta hai kya? (I asked Hardik if the shot was on) He said, it is completely your call, and whatever you think just back it. He gave me positive vibes and I told myself that if this ball is pitched here, I will go for it. I wanted to do something different.
Heard you are superstitious and a movie buff
My mother is superstitious. She always used to ask which colour will suit my child. Depending on that, colours of the car kept changing. Even the colour of the watch kept changing. She doesn’t get into my cricket but she tries to control external stuff through her puja. Regarding movies, I like to watch comedy movies, I try to watch Akshay Kumar and Rajpal Yadav movies. Heri Pheri, Phir Hera Pheri, Chup Chup Ke, Andaz Apna Apna are some of the movies I have watched a number of times. It makes my mood light, especially after a bad day.
You have a lot of tattoos
Yeah, I have one on my hand of my parents. Then near the heart, there is a tattoo of my wife. And there are others, the meanings of which I have written down in a notebook.
How do you spend time outside cricket?
I have a lot of school friends, who have no relation to cricket at all. So when I go back I’ll spend a lot of time with them. Most importantly I spend a lot of time with my family when I am not playing because there is always one tournament or the other and you don’t spend much time with the family. So when I go back I try and spend a lot of time with my mom, dad, sister, wife and dog. They try and keep me happy as much as they can because they know how much pressure a sportsman faces when he goes for a tournament or any game. So there’s no discussion about cricket when I go back home. Also, when I go back home I’m just a normal person, a friend, a brother, a son, and now a husband.
How do you adjust to batting at different positions?
I was actually always flexible to bat anywhere in the batting order But when I got to bat at No.3 consistently, it became a little easier for me to understand what happens at this position. How do you take the innings ahead? So it was really good and it made me a better player when I actually started batting in that position.