“There was a lot of dew on the ground, it was there from the seventh-eighth over, and I knew what my shots were on the ground,” Suryakumar said after Mumbai Indians’ 27-run win. “I knew that one side of the boundary is 75-80 metres. So I was prepared to hit two shots in that over – scooping one over third man and flicking one over square leg. I was not thinking about hitting straight. I have played that shot before, and I just backed myself and was really happy with how it went over third man.
“There is lots and lots of practice before the game – what I practice and how I practice. That is most important. When I come into the game, I am very clear and I just go out and express myself. That’s it.”
Having come in at No.3 after Mumbai had been asked to bat first at the Wankhede Stadium, Suryakumar hit an unbeaten 103 off 49 balls to propel the hosts to 218 for 5 – their fifth 200-plus total this season. After he took 32 balls to get to his fifty, he needed only 17 balls for his second fifty. He reached the landmark off what was the final ball of the innings with a six over backward square leg. Comparing this knock with his three T20I hundreds, Suryakumar said “it was one of his best.”
“Can say that [this was one of my best T20 knocks],” Suryakumar said. “Whenever I get runs I think the team should win, and most importantly, we batted first today. We had a chat in the afternoon that we would keep the same tempo when you are chasing 200-220 and we will keep up the tempo till the last over. Very happy with the way things went.”
Having seen Suryakumar evolve into a T20 phenom from close quarters, Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma heaped praise on him.
“The guy has got confidence,” Rohit said. “At the start of the tournament, we were deciding whether to keep the right-left combination, but Surya came in and said no, he wanted to go in. That is the kind of confidence he has, it doesn’t matter if a legspinner is bowling or offspinner or left-arm spinner, he just wants to go in. That shows he has got so much confidence in the last one-and-a-half years that he’s been playing for us and also for India. He’s done really well. That’s the confidence he brings in and it rubs off on others who are batting with him in the middle.
“There’s no looking back for him. The good thing about him is, in every game, he wants to start fresh and does not look back at the previous game – which is always nice for a cricketer to think like that – what has happened in the past and the kind of run he had in the past. Sometimes you can sit back, and think about it and be proud of it, but that is not the case with him.”
Hardik Pandya, Titans’ captain, who had previously played along with Suryakumar with Mumbai in the IPL, conceded that it is tough to set fields for a “tremendous player” like him.
“People have spoken enough about him,” Hardik said. “He is one of the best batters in T20 cricket. When he gets going, it’s very difficult to set a field as a captain and for a bowler as well. You have to execute your plans and outdo him. Otherwise, you saw what can happen if you don’t execute your plans or if you freeze in a situation when the pressure is on you. He kept putting pressure on our bowlers and got the better of them.”
(With Inputs from ESPN)
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