Suryakumar Yadav would love to gorge on biryani. Brownie with ice-cream once formed a part of his matchday meal. Those days, however, are long gone. Nowadays, his staple diet includes salads, chicken and all things healthier. “Sweets are absolute no-no,” he says.
“Nowadays, it’s biryani in the (hotel) room only when I have a good day (on the field). My wife tells me, ‘it’s the night to reward yourself and have biryani’. I have sacrificed a lot of food items that I used to love before. But then if you want to be on the top in this sport, you have to sacrifice,” the 32-year-old adds.
Surya sure is at the top right now—of his own game and of the world T20I rankings for batters. But for one of the most lethal white-ball cricketers currently, his dreams are not confined to that alone.
It is with that mindset that Sky, as he is fondly called, is gearing up to play his first Ranji Trophy game in almost three years. Surya is part of the Mumbai squad that will face Hyderabad here from Tuesday, in what will be his first Ranji Trophy appearance for the domestic giants since February 2020.
“I feel this is the best format of the game and I really enjoy playing it. I have always dreamt of playing for India in Tests as well,” Surya says on the eve of the match at BKC.
He may have come into national reckoning much later than those in Mumbai’s cricket circle predicted, but his exploits in the T20 format over the last one year have made him the most talked-about batter in the world at the moment. Now that he is a key member of India’s white-ball team, talks have gathered momentum about Surya being drafted into the Test squad too.
Among the first to stoke the fire was former India head coach Ravi Shastri who called for Surya’s inclusion in the Test squad during the T20 World Cup. “This guy can play Test cricket and I’ll tell you what, he can surprise a few. Send him there at No 5 and let him stir it up,” Shastri had said on Star Sports.
Surya has also spent a decent amount of time in the dressing room with the Test team of late. He was part of the Test squad when India toured England last year and during New Zealand’s tour of India last year.
Surya too is looking forward to don the whites for India. “I have got runs in this format as well (in first-class cricket). I enjoy batting in this format. I still remember him (Shastri) saying, ‘I was an all-format player’. So it feels really good to hear something like that from someone of his stature,” says Surya.
“I first got recognition because of my performances in the red-ball cricket. So, this format (four-day) is very close to my heart,” he adds.
Surya also made quite an impression on current India coach Rahul Dravid during the New Zealand Test series at home. “During the Kanpur Test I was batting in the nets and he (Dravid) said, ‘You are looking good, you just need to curtail a few strokes and just be yourself’. At the end of the day, it’s about scoring runs in this format as well. He told me to just keep things simple and enjoy what you are doing,” says Surya.
The enterprising batter has accumulated the highest runs in T20Is this season, scoring 1,164 in 31 matches at a strike-rate of 187.43 with the help of two centuries and nine fifties. Looking back at his incredible year, Surya says, “It’s the fruits of all the hard work I have put in over the last 10-15 years…all the sacrifices that my family and I have made together. I’m just enjoying the fruits right now and very happy to stay in this space.”
Surya is also happy to be back in the Mumbai team after a long gap. “It feels like I’m back home. It feels great to meet everyone. The last first-class game I played was just before the pandemic. People (Mumbai players) are doing well…I would also love to contribute. We won the last game and it will be great if we can have the icing on the cake with another win.”