Suryakumar Yadav would like to eat Biryani. Brownie with ice cream once became a part of his match day meal. However, those days are long gone. These days his main diet includes salad, chicken and all healthy things. “Sweets are an absolute no-no,” he says.
“Nowadays, it is biryani in the (hotel) room when I have a good day (on the field). My wife tells me, ‘this is the night to reward myself and eat biryani’. I’ve given up on a lot of foods that I used to love. But if you want to be at the top of the game, you have to make sacrifices.”
Surya is definitely on top right now – in the World T20I rankings for his game and for the batsmen. But for one of the most lethal white-ball cricketers currently, his dreams are not limited to that alone.
With the same mindset, Akash, as he is fondly called, is all set 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 their first Ranji Trophy outing for the domestic giants since February 2020.
“I think it’s the best format of the game and I really enjoy playing it. I’ve always dreamed of playing for India in Tests as well,” says Surya on the eve of the match at BKC.
He may have come to the national stage much later than Mumbai’s cricket circles predicted, but his exploits in the T20 format over the past year have made him the most talked-about batsman in the world at the moment. Now that he is a key member of India’s limited overs team, talks have intensified about Surya’s inclusion in the Test squad as well.
The first to stoke the fire was former India head coach Ravi Shastri who demanded Surya’s inclusion in the Test squad during the T20 World Cup. “This guy can play Test cricket and I tell you he might surprise some people. Send him there at No.5 and let him stir there,” Shastri was quoted as saying on Star Sports.
Surya has also had a good 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 India’s tour of New Zealand last year.
Suriya is also looking forward to playing the whites for India. “I have scored 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 is really nice to hear something like this from a person of his stature,” says Surya.
“I first got recognized because of my performances in red-ball cricket. So this format (four-day) is very close to my heart.
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 take a few strokes less and that’s just the way you are’. At the end of the day, it’s all about this format. I am also about scoring runs. He told me to keep things simple and enjoy what you are doing,” says Surya.
The enterprising batsman has accumulated the most runs in T20Is this season, scoring 1,164 runs in 31 matches at a strike rate of 187.43 with the help of two centuries and nine fifties. Recalling his incredible year, Surya says, “It is the fruit of all the hard work I have done in the last 10-15 years… all the sacrifices that my family and I have made together. Right now I am just enjoying the fruits and very happy to be at this place.”
Surya is also happy to be back in the Mumbai team after a long gap. “It feels like I’m back home. It’s great to meet everyone. The last first-class match I played was just before the pandemic. The guys (Mumbai players) are doing well… I’d love to contribute too We won the last game and it would be great if we can add another win to the icing on the cake.