Through IPL13, which he lit up with a string of match-winning knocks, the scoreboards played on his initials SKY. Surya Kumar Yadav became the first uncapped player to score 2,000 runs in IPL and like in the previous seasons, this time too they came sans power hitting. Yadav excelled with shots behind the wickets, was fluent square of the pitch but was equally comfortable going down the ground. Yet it wasn’t good enough for Yadav to go to Australia with the India team. In an exclusive interview, he talks about disappointment, his banter with Virat Kohli and how Rohit Sharma has helped Mumbai Indians (MI) to a string of IPL titles.
Q: How would you describe IPL 13 where you played multiple match-winning knocks for champions MI?
A: It was a good season for me. Ahead of the season, I had set some goals and I am happy that I could contribute for the team. I wanted to deliver when (the) chips were down and fortunately everything panned out well. During the preparations, we as a team made a slogan, “creating history”, and wanted to win the title in 2020 which is an even year. Mumbai Indians have never won in an even-numbered year. So, I have to say IPL 13 gave us reasons to be the happiest.
Q: Having been in MI for many seasons, could you explain the team’s consistency? How is the dressing room atmosphere?
A: Mumbai Indians have some amazing former players like Zaheer Khan, Mahela Jayawardene and Shane Bond in the support staff. They are the backbone of this well-oiled team. These guys always tell players to keep it simple. They want everybody to play with freedom and, in the process, the players play to their potential. This is very crucial. This makes everybody perform consistently. Coach Jayawardene is a calm guy who knows what he wants from each player. The dressing room atmosphere is chilled out with Hardik (Pandya), Krunal (Pandya), Ishan (Kishan) being in their element. Plus Rohit Sharma’s leadership is fantastic.
Q: Talk about the roles you, Kishan, Krunal and Hardik had?
A: Before the tournament, the four of us had a chat by the swimming pool at a hotel about the challenge this year. We concluded that on a given day, two players need to excel and contribute in order to help team reach a dominating position. Me and Ishan like to attack from the start, so if we don’t click, the number 5 and 6 batsmen (Hardik and Krunal) have to come good. While fielding too, we all are thinking on these lines and backing each other. We talk a lot on and off the field.
Q: Which was your most favourite innings of the season and why?
A: It has to be my innings of 79 runs (in 43 balls) against Royal Bangalore Challengers (RCB). We were chasing 165. The opponents were coming at us hard and it was amazing to score freely and set up the win. I wanted to prove myself after not finding a place in the Australia-bound team. I also liked my innings of 79 runs (in 47 balls) against Rajasthan Royals. Although I love chasing, I enjoyed batting against a good bowling line-up. Chasing a target pumps me up. I like playing my shots and dominate during the chase.
Q: What was the banter between you and Virat Kohli in that game against RCB? You reacted strongly to Kohli’s sledging.
A: It was all very instinctive. Virat Kohli is a huge cricketing figure and he plays the game very aggressively. It was an important game for both teams and whatever happened, it did during the game. After the game, we laughed about it and he congratulated me on my batting. Virat’s brand of cricket is top class and the way he dominates world cricket is just amazing. I too look up to him. In the end it was great to win the game.
Q: Were you expecting a call-up to the Indian team for Australia tour?
A: Frankly, I was expecting to be selected this time. I was a bit disappointed when I found my name missing. I couldn’t even train that day and it was difficult to take my mind off from that dejection. Even Rohit (Sharma) asked me if I was disappointed and I told him I was. But never mind. I will wait for my chances. There is a lot of time to show my cricket abilities and make my case stronger for a national call-up. I hope I can score big in domestic games and then do well in the next IPL to catch the attention of the selectors.
Q: What goes in your mind when people say that you should have made your India debut by now?
A: The selection is not in my hand. So, I don’t think much….Even Sachin Tendulkar “paaji” sent me a message asking me to continue scoring runs and I would like to use the chances and do well… I will try my best to be in contention for the World T20 team
Q: How is Sharma as a captain? What sort of rapport do you two share?
A: Rohit “bhai” is a fantastic captain who puts the team first before his own self. He has led MI to five titles due to his fine captaincy and top-class batting. He took over as a captain in 2013 and left his opening slot for me. It was incredible of him to do so. I enjoy so much when I am batting alongside him.