What exactly is an ideal moment to break free for a middle-order batter in T20s? How many balls does one need to settle in? What’s the way out if you get stuck on the crease? These things largely depend on the context of the game and the skillset of the player. But a blistering century from Suryakumar Yadav at Trent Bridge is the closest you’ll come to finding all those answers in just one innings. Other than being a masterclass of wristwork, the innings also embodied a refreshing approach to this format, a stark contrast to the days of Virat Kohli and Ravi Shastri.

Suryakumar was not flooded with options when he came to the crease. When the team is two down on 13 while chasing a daunting target of 215, there’s only one way you’re going to turn the game on its head: the hard-handed way. Things took a turn for worse after Surya saw his captain Rohit Sharma departing soon after. India were now on 31/3. Soon after the powerplay ended, Suryakumar welcomed David Willey with his trademark square drive and a deft flick over the fine leg for the six. 

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An over later, he took apart Liam Livingstone with three brilliantly placed boundaries, all of them behind the squares. A bulk of his 117 runs came from the region between square leg to deep point. On a couple of occasions when the opponents packed those regions, Suryakumar went squarer, constantly involved in a cat and mice duel with English fielders.

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Each of his boundaries were clean and efficient. His agile feet and nimble wrists worked in tandem, piercing the gap between the fielders at surgical precision. If some anthropologists ever depict the evolution of human limbs, Suryakumar’s control of wrists will be a perfect representation of the highest stage of evolution. If it sounds exaggerated, you should watch his six against Chris Jordan in the 13th over.

It was a fullish delivery angled towards the leg stump, almost a yorker that batters usually drill straight down the ground for a single or double. Suryakumar Yadav just shuffled a little, kneeled down, and just used his wrist at the last moment to send the ball flying over deep point. He played a similar stroke again, and this time the ball went over cover point. Whenever the bowler strayed towards leg, he was quick to shuffle across and play it fine. 

It took Suryakumar Yadav just 10 balls to reach to 100 from 65. Although his century couldn’t avert a defeat for India, it was one of the best T20I innings from an Indian batter, oozing with intent and class. 

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“One of the best in the T20s that I’ve seen,” said the captain Rohit Sharma about Surya’s knock. “Especially when you’re chasing a score like that and you come out and bat the way he did shows the quality of the batsman.”

“He pretty much did everything right today. Just that, I’m pretty sure he’s slightly disappointed that he couldn’t be there right till the end, but taking nothing away from that kind of knock,” added Sharma, who registered the first T20I loss of his career on Sunday.

When Suryakumar Yadav holed out to Phillip Salt in the penultimate over, the writing was on the wall. In the next seven balls, India could only muster seven runs to lose the game by 17 runs. But still, they stretched the game too far after going three down inside the powerplay, and as many as five batters getting out without touching the double-figure mark. Had Suryakumar Yadav got a little support from the others, the result would have been a 3-0 clean sweep.

Featured Image Credit: BCCI