H! Factor: A 360-degree shot and incredible talent at the crease.
“The sound of the ball hitting the bat makes me feel like today is my day,” says Suryakumar Yadav, for whom it’s all in or nothing. The explosive batsman rose up the T20 charts in 2022 to claim one of the top spots, following a number of unparalleled innings at the crease. So much so that during one of their many partnerships last year, Virat Kohli compared Yadav’s time on strike to a video game.
“Tu video game khel raha hai kya? Alag chal raha hai tera (Are you playing a video game? You are batting on a different level). It felt nice to hear these things,” Yadav described his captain as having said in an interview. His unbeaten 111 off just 51 balls in the T20 series against New Zealand is likely to go down in history as one of the most unforgettable innings in this format of cricket. His half-century against South Africa in Perth, on a super-quick pitch, too, left onlookers immensely impressed.
With a run tally of 1,164 in 31 matches — including a dozen 50s and two centuries — a strike rate of 187.43 and an average of 46.56, it’s safe to say that the 32-year-old is the most threatening batsman to reckon with in the sport at present.
“He’s so much better than everyone else that it’s actually hard to watch!” said Australian cricketer Glenn Maxwell, after one such game.
“He’s playing some of the most ridiculous shots I’ve ever seen, and he’s doing it stupidly consistently. It’s a bit hard to watch because it makes everyone else look so much worse!”
SKY — as he was nicknamed by Gautam Gambhir when he joined Kolkata Knight Riders for his massive out-of-ground sixes — is a lethal batsman who can fit anywhere in the batting order. In fact, he’s also known as Mr. 360 because of his specialty, the 360-degree shot that leaves jaws dropped — and the sportsman himself puzzled.
“I played such shots at domestic and IPL levels, but to do so successfully on the big stage left even me amazed. The other day, I came across videos of my batting over the past three months and I asked myself ‘How did I knock this out?’” the right-hander once exclaimed, amused.
Yadav began playing domestic cricket in 2010, but it took him more than 10 years to break into the national side. He played the first match for Team India in 2021, and the very next year, rose to prominence with some of the best cricket the sport has seen in a while. His exceptional form and ability to tee off from ball one caught the attention of players — especially bowlers who have to face him — worldwide. And after a phenomenal 2022 and being rested for India’s ODI series against Bangladesh, he returned to play for Mumbai for the 2022-23 season of the Ranji Trophy.
Having seemingly mastered the white-ball formats of cricket, we can’t wait to see what more he has in store for the game — and Team India.
This story has been adapted for the website from a story that was originally published in Hello! India’s January 2023 issue. Get your hands on the latest issue right here!