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Legendary cricketer slams Rahul Dravid, India coach gives big ‘slap in the face’ to him

Rahul Dravid, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Krishnamachari Srikkanth, India, West Indies,

The Indians continue to experiment with their playing XI ahead of the T20 World Cup in Australia. However, when coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma chose Suryakumar Yadav to open the innings with the India skipper, they were subjected to severe criticism from several quarters. Former India captain Krishnamachari Srikkanth was particularly scathing in his remarks, declaring that Rahul Dravid was playing with Suryakumar Yadav’s career because he was an established middle-order batter and had proved himself at No.4 time and again. That’s why he was against Suryakumar’s promotion to the opening slot.

“Suryakumar Yadav is a brilliant player at No.4. He should be batting at No.4 in the T20 World Cup. So why do you want to make him open? If you want someone to open, drop Shreyas Iyer and pick Ishan Kishan instead. What I am trying to say is simple…don’t spoil the cricketer like Suryakumar Yadav. Please don’t do that. I will tell you what will, after a couple of failures he will lose his confidence. Cricket is a confidence game,” Krishnamachari Srikkanth said on FanCode.

Even former India batter Mohammad Kaif had criticized captain Rohit Sharma and coach Rahul Dravid for their decision to open the innings with Suryakumar Yadav against the West Indies.

“Whatever it was, I completely failed to understand it. You ought to have used Rishabh Pant if you were planning to use him as the opener for a couple of games. Give him five chances at least. In addition, Rohit Sharma, the captain, and Rahul Dravid, the coach, support the players for at least 5–6 games,” Kaif had said on FanCode.

While Rahul Dravid’s strategy to deploy Suryakumar Yadav at the top of the order failed in the second T20I in the Caribbean where he could only make 24 runs, the Mumbai Indians batter proved Krishnamachari Srikkanth and Mohammad Kaif wrong as he smashed an explosive 76 off 44 deliveries in the third match, leading India to a dominant seven-wicket triumph in Basseterre.

With Suryakumar Yadav’s match-defining knock, Rahul Dravid not only proved why he is regarded as one of the finest tacticians in cricket but gave a big slap in the face of Srikkanth as well.

The ease with which Suryakumar Yadav batted against Nicholas Pooran and company earned him plaudits from ESPNCricinfo’s Deivarayan Muthu who was categorical in his praise of the 31-year-old cricketer.

“Suryakumar has the ability to make batting look ridiculously easy. He did so when he kick-started his T20I career with a hook off the first ball he faced, from Jofra Archer, for six. More recently this July, at Trent Bridge, he walloped 117 off 55 balls in a chase of 216 where no other Indian batter passed 30,” Muthu wrote in his column for the revered website.

“In the third T20I in Basseterre, he unveiled two outrageous shots – like only he can – that defined the game. When fast bowler Alzarri Joseph pounded a near-140kph delivery on a hard length and attacked the top of off stump, Suryakumar stood tall, extended his arms, lifted his left elbow high, and pumped it over wide long-off for six. Joseph then went wide of the crease and angled another sharp delivery into Suryakumar’s throat, but he sank to his knees and arched his back almost onto the ground and ramped it over the wicketkeeper for four,” Muthu added.

“Suryakumar was just as nerveless and decisive in the strokeplay against Akeal Hosein and Dominic Drakes. After bringing up a 26-ball half-century with a swept six off Hosein, he stepped back a bit against the older ball, scoring only 23 off his last 18 balls. When he was finally done in the 15th over, India needed only 30 off 33 balls,” Muthu explained.

“Really happy with the way things went,” Suryakumar Yadav stated after he was named the Player-of-the-Match. “I felt when Rohit went inside [retired hurt] it was important for someone to bat till about 15-17 overs. I just went out to be myself and expressed it.

“Obviously, we saw yesterday what happened in the second innings [alluding to the pitch slowing down]. So, it was really important, as I said, for someone to bat deep and go on and win the game for the team. So, that was what I was focusing on,” he summed up.

Rohit Sharma was also impressed with Suryakumar’s knock.

“Once you get a start in this format, it’s always important to convert that because it does well for the team. Of course the thirties and forties for any player look good, but, I think when you get past 70-80 and then go on to get a hundred as well… then you’re scoring those runs for the team. I thought Surya batted brilliantly, [he had] a good partnership there with [Shreyas] Iyer and it was quite clinical,” Rohit Sharma said after India’s win.