Suryakumar plundered 60 off 49 to take Kolkata Knight Riders over the line. © AFP
Suryakumar plundered 60 off 49 to take Kolkata Knight Riders over the line. © AFP

As it goes with the saying, “Nothing is worse than missing an opportunity that could have changed your life,” Kolkata Knight Riders‘ Suryakumar Yadav has certainly grabbed the golden opportunity with both the hands and made an impact. Yadav played one of the most stubborn innings of 60 from 49 deliveries and steered his side to a comfortable position in the 20th game of the Indian Premier League against Rising Pune Supergiants at Pune on Sunday. Yadav was elevated to number three following Manish Pandey’s exclusion from the side due to chickenpox. Yadav stuck to his guns and came out hard to smash his highest score in T20 cricket and that too on a pitch which had immense assistance for the spinners. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2016, Match 20 at Pune

Yadav is tailor-made for a format such as T20; he can improvise, his risk is calculated and is equally effective when it comes to orthodox cricket. He’s versatile and can shift gears in no time and with this knock he also gave a testament to his pressure-soaking abilities. On most of the occasions, Yadav has batted in the middle-order and never got a prolonged chance to display his finesse at the top. KKR have rarely meddled with the combination of players but the illness to Manish Pandey before the clash against the RPS paved the way for Yadav to bat higher up the order, which he utilised to the fullest. FULL CRICKET UPDATES: Rising Pune Supergiants vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2016, Match 20 at Pune

KKR were chasing a modest target of 161 in 20 overs on a pitch which had a lot to offer for the spinners. KKR after losing both the openers cheaply were trying to wrestle back into the game with Yadav being the chief. One should remember, their openers — Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa shouldered majority of the run-scoring responsibility but after their early fall the onus was on Yadav to bail his team out of crisis.

Yadav walked out to bat on the very second delivery of KKR’s innings and had a mountain to climb ahead of him. From elegant straight drives to placing the ball into the gaps along with punishing the loose deliveries, Yadav packaged it all in his diligent innings. He was a canny customer and picked the fielders beautifully, one of the most important aspects of his innings was his selection of shots which was magnificent.

Yadav rotated the strike and kept the required run rate under check. His couple of big sixes to India’s frontline spinner Ravichandran Ashwin on a turning track is evidence to his buoyancy. He hit six boundaries which was a treat for every cricket fan to watch, this was some serious class of batting. He hardly slogged the ball and relied heavily on his instincts and timing while getting those odd boundaries. His forte is his ability to watch the ball till the very last moment and he never loses focus which is the basic of batting.

Why Yadav should bat at the top?

Yadav has shown enough substantiation to bear greater responsibilities. It was a valiant move by the team management to elevate him at No. 3 but they should invest in him irrespective of Pandey’s comeback. At that position he will face maximum deliveries and can place his innings accordingly which will further reinforce their batting. He will have sufficient time to get his eyes in and play a match-winning innings more frequently. One does not need to be informed that he possesses the skill of hitting a pace bowler for a maximum over third man or fine leg, which he has famously did in the past. His success at the top will let power-hitters like Andre Russell and Yusf Pathan to cut loose from the outset and they can play to their natural instincts.

Yadav can anchor an innings and a team does not need many power hitters, having Russell and Pathan is just passable. Making Yadav bat in the lower-middle order is nothing but just a sheer waste of talent as the amount of deliveries he gets to play is not reasonable. KKR have great depth in the batting, and elevating Yadav in the batting order could just be marvellous dressing on a well cooked recipe. He is hungry for success and has proven his worth whenever the opportunity was there to be grabbed.

(Suraj Choudhari is a reporter with Criclife and CricketCountry. He is an avid follower of the game, and plays the sport at club level. He has a radical understanding about the subtle nuances and intricacies of cricket, and tries to express it through paper and pen.)