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Cricket news - Surya's second chance in his cricketing full circle
It's been five years since Suryakumar Yadav was sacked as Mumbai's captain. It was a disastrous stint. Those who played under him swear by it. He knows it too. He has been reminded of it ample times to chuckle at those immature bursts of anger now. "You make mistakes and you learn from it. It's important you learn fast before it's too late," he tells Cricbuzz, reflecting on his 24-year-old self.
In the five years since, Mumbai has won a Ranji Trophy for the first time without a Test player in its XI. They have also seen the low of failing to qualify for the knockouts. The form of the team ran parallel to his fortunes as well; success as an opener with Mumbai Indians and a drop from Mumbai's Ranji side.
The full circle is complete and he has been drafted in the leadership role again. Right now, as a vice-captain, he is being tested, and if okayed, in a matter of a few weeks, he could be leading Mumbai. Again.
"It's been a long time now (since the first captaincy stint). I have gained a lot of experience playing with other players, in India A and IPL as well. I have seen a lot of captains, of how they handle the team and themselves. I have seen how Rohit (Sharma) handles all the top players in the ground and his personality off the field in the last two years. The stint with Mumbai Indians was helpful in that regard.
"I have learnt how to keep myself really calm in pressure situations and how to handle different players. Everyone has a different style and different mode of play. So you have to take that in your stride and have a positive approach towards everyone. I have been working on that in the last few years. So, hopefully, if I get to lead Mumbai again, it will be a different Suryakumar."
But the pre-condition for him to get the big seat is his performance. Despite a lot of promise and a lot of awe-inspiring flicks, it's been a nine-year-long domestic career that has failed to take off. And this, after showcasing success in the widest of ranges of batting: as an opener for Mumbai Indians, as a finisher for Kolkata Knight Riders and as a pillar for Mumbai in the middle order, exhibiting over-the-top strokeplay and long-haul dead bat defense with equal comfort.
"When you make your first-class debut, you want to keep moving up the ladder, go higher a little faster. But it is always destiny. Even if you get 1000 runs (in a season), you got to be patient. Now, I've been doing that for so many years, waiting for the opportunity to come.
"Whenever I've had a good season, I've felt that I will get an opportunity. But when you have that expectation and you don't get that call-up, you get highly disappointed. So in the last two years, I've just been focussing on what I have to do right. If I follow that process and do all that I have to do, tick all the boxes, then the door will open automatically, instead of getting frustrated and losing my process."
Even as his failings in Ranji Trophy last season led to his axing from the side, his performance in the limited-overs tournaments were healthy. There were impact knocks, time and again, but the big innings - irrespective of the format - has evaded him for too long. Again, it's not something that he is unaware of. In fact, he too is in search of it.
"Even I have been waiting for a big knock for whichever team I've been playing," he says. "I have been trying to win matches - for both Mumbai and Mumbai Indians. There is no specific reason why I haven't got those big knocks. I have worked hard. Like they say 'you have to be patient for bigger things to come'. Hopefully, it will all start coming now."
And just as he says it, two reasonably big innings - in as many matches - are registered against his name in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy: 31-ball 81 vs Chhattisgarh and 71-ball 85* vs Saurashtra. It's his time to throw his name in the national team's middle order muddle. But getting ahead of himself is something that has pinched him in the past, and he is vary of that.
"What bothers me is if I set targets, set goals and don't reach there. If I set a target of scoring some runs, and if I'm unable to achieve that after a few games, I put undue pressure on myself. So in the last couple of seasons, I've tried to keep things simple. I don't take that pressure anymore and just enjoy my batting."
Of promise and adventure, his no-target season 19-20 has started, and he is bored already. He is stuck in a fancy resort at the outskirts of Bangalore. Stuck. The city center, its beauty and vices, are at a little distance, separated by the famed traffic. There is nothing more left in the confines of the resort to entertain him either. PlayStation has tired his eyes out, the latest episodes of the Kapil Sharma Show has been caught up with, and even the films that he can watch a hundred times over aren't his aid anymore. His teammates, with all the familiarity and the indifference, are his only go-to company for now.
"When it's a longer tournament, there is a better scope for team bonding. You get to spend a lot of time with the players, away from home. Look, we are in an isolated place. Here, we don't have anything to do other than spending time with our teammates, calling them to play some indoor games. It helps in understanding each and every player, and that (bonding) reflects on the field as well. The blind trust that you create when you stay together this long is important."
There are a few wrongs from the past that he has an opportunity to correct this season. And for that, it is this blind trust that he seeks from his teammates.
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