New Delhi, Jan 27 Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting has heaped praise on India’s in-form middle-order batter Suryakumar Yadav, saying the right-handed batter is doing better “than anyone’s ever done it”.
Suryakumar, the top-ranked batter in T20Is, was recently named the winner of the ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year 2022 award for becoming just the second batter to score more than 1000 runs in a year in the format with his astonishing 360-degree strokeplay.
He was the highest run-getter in T20Is in 2022, scoring 1,164 runs at a ridiculous strike rate of 187.43, averaging 46.56. His tally of 68 sixes in 2022 is the highest anyone has hit in the format in a year by a fair distance.
“He’s probably doing it better than anyone’s ever done it right now. We talk about players that can score 360 degrees… some of the shots he’s hitting back behind the wicket-keeper and over fine leg are just remarkable.”
“Five or six years ago, he started doing that a lot in the IPL. He was very good at flicking the ball over deep-backwards square and getting the ball over fine-leg. Surya’s now been able to hit short balls on the way up and flick short balls over the keeper’s head and they’re going for six, not just for four,” said Ponting in the latest episode of The ICC Review show.
Suryakumar had lit up the 2022 Men’s T20 World Cup in Australia, slamming 239 runs at an outstanding average of 59.75 and a whopping strike rate of 189.68, including match-tempo changing fifties against South Africa, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands.
“I think innovation-wise, skill-wise, I haven’t seen a better player in the game. What it’s going to do as well, a lot of other players are going to try and do the things he’s doing and it’s going to add another level of skill to the T20 game all around the world.”
“Someone said during the IPL this year (to be held in 2023) there are going to be guys who are going to try and do exactly the same as what Surya’s doing, and that’s going to be great for the game,” added Ponting.
With India’s three T20Is against New Zealand starting from Friday in Ranchi, Suryakumar is now within striking distance of the record of 915 points set by England left-hander Dawid Malan in November 2020.
Ponting signed off by saying that the current time is the fittest he has ever seen of Suryakumar. “I didn’t think he’d get to the level he’s got to, to be quite honest. He’s worked as hard as he has – you can probably tell by his body shape.”
“He’s probably fitter than he’s ever been, being around the Indian set-up with the likes of (Virat) Kohli and Shreyas Iyer and these guys, who are exceptionally fit young guys. To have those guys leading the way for him, he’s turned into an incredibly good player.”