Amid Suryakumar Yadav's woeful run of form with the bat, the legendary Yuvraj Singh has thrown his weight behind the struggling Team India batter, saying he would play a crucial role in the World Cup and hence should not face omission from the national team.
“Every sports person goes thru ups & downs in their career! We've all experienced it at sum point. I believe @surya_14kumar is a key player for India & will play an imp role in the #WorldCup if given the opportunities. Let's back our players coz our Surya will rise again,” Yuvraj Singh tweeted.
Yuvraj Singh's backing for Suryakumar Yadav comes amid rising criticism of his performance in the recently concluded ODI series against Australia.
On Wednesday, Suryakumar Yadav became the first international cricketer to score three consecutive golden ducks in ODIs, leading to an intense debate in cricketing circles about his spot in the Rohit Sharma-led side.
The 32-year-old player's bizarre feat came against Australia following his dismissal for naught in the final match in Chennai.
Before his dismissal to Ashton Agar on the first delivery he faced at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Suryakumar Yadav suffered a similar fate in Mumbai and Visakhapatnam, losing his wicket on ball No.1 at the two venues.
Suryakumar Yadav has contrasting stats in T20Is and ODIs. In T20Is, Suryakumar Yadav has become the backbone of India's batting, and the 32-year-old dasher became the first Indian batter to score over a thousand runs in a calendar year in T20Is, in 2022. On the other hand, he's yet to cement his place in the 50-over format, forget winning matches.
Unlike the T20Is, where he is the No.1 batter in the world, Suryakumar Yadav has failed to make much of an impact, having collected 433 runs at an under-par average of 25.05, with two fifties in 23 ODIs. His highest score of 64 in ODIs came a year ago, in February 2022.
Despite his struggles, Rohit Sharma and many former cricketers, including Kapil Dev, have been supporting Suryakumar Yadav.
“He only played three balls in three (games) this series. I don't know how much to look into it. He got three good balls, to be honest. Today, it wasn't that good ball; he should have gone forward. He knows best. He plays spin so well. We have seen that over last couple of years. That's why we held him back and give him that role for the last 15-20 overs where he can play his game, but it's really unfortunate he could only play three balls. That can happen to anyone. But the potential and ability is always there. He is just going through that phase right now,” Rohit Sharma said after the match.
The great Kapil Dev praised the Indian team management for backing Suryakumar Yadav before adding that the explosive batter deserved a long rope in ODIs given that he could emerge as the X-factor in a World Cup year.
“A cricketer who has played so well will always get more chances. Don't compare Surya with Sanju Samson, it doesn't seem right. If Sanju goes through a bad phase then you will talk about somebody else. This should not happen. If the team management has decided to back Suryakumar Yadav then he should be given more chances. Yes, people will talk, give their opinion but ultimately it's the management's call,” Kapil Dev told ABP News.
“It's very easy to talk after the match is finished. Maybe the idea behind sending Suryakumar at No.7 was to give him an opportunity as a finisher. This (shuffling of the batting order) is nothing new in ODIs. This has happened many times before. Yes, at times it can happen that a batter's confidence is dented if he has been dragged down the order. But the onus rests on the player to tell his captain that ‘I can handle myself in the top order.' The coach and captain must have taken the decision with particular thinking,” he added.
Even former Pakistan cricketer Danish Kaneria blasted Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid for their treatment of Suryakumar Yadav.
“The Indian team management has not shown enough confidence when it comes to Suryakumar Yadav. They should not have changed his position. Even Virat Kohli took some time to come back to form, but his position didn't change. So why with Suryakumar Yadav? The Indian team management is to blame for Suryakumar's golden ducks,” Danish Kaneria said on his YouTube channel. “It is Rohit Sharma's mistake as well. They demotivated him at a time when his confidence was already shattered. They should have motivated him and allowed him to bat at his position.”
Ex-India batter Ajay Jadeja reckoned that Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma's strategy to send Suryakumar Yadav to bat at No.7 in Tamil Nadu backfired as it dented his confidence.
According to Ajay Jadeja, while Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma have continued to back Suryakumar Yadav publicly, their actions suggest otherwise. In some way or the other, their decision played on Suryakumar Yadav's mind.
“You played him, some people thought that he shouldn't play, but you did back him. But you also had a doubt, that's a fact. It was visible through your decision. You thought ‘he isn't in form, so we can't send him at this moment because he is failing against swing'. When he came at the end, the game became even more difficult,” Ajay Jadeja told Cricbuzz.
“When you're going through a good time, it doesn't matter if you make the batter wait. But if the form isn't good and you let the player wait for his batting, his mind would run in different directions. He is a human being!”
“He's the same Suryakumar Yadav who scored 360 degrees across the ground. It isn't as if he doesn't know how to play. It's all about the mind. When someone like Virat Kohli faced so many months out of form, it means there's something in the mind that affects your game. If you're thinking too much, and you're making the player wait for his batting, the doubt only increases,” Ajay Jadeja explained.