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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2022 Men's T20I batting winner: A Suryakumar Yadav special

How many different ways can you hit a ball? SKY's the limit

Alagappan Muthu
Alagappan Muthu
18-Mar-2023
Suryakumar made 1164 T20I runs in 2022 but 111 of them were especially audacious. In the second T20I against New Zealand, he came in at 69 for 2 and for about three balls he played like the game's been played for hundreds of years. Fourth ball he scooped New Zealand's fastest bowler for four over the keeper, and then he did not look back. Eleven of India's 18 boundaries came off Suryakumar's bat.
It already seems unfair for a player to have the physical strength to do these things effortlessly, but Suryakumar also seems to predict the bowler's behaviour; he puts them under immense pressure and then knows exactly what delivery they'll turn to and he's ready for it. Lockie Ferguson bore the brunt, going for 4, 0, 4, 4, 4, 6 in the 19th over, but none of the other bowlers were spared either. When the game was done, the scorecard said: Suryakumar Yadav: 111 runs; rest of India: 69 runs; New Zealand: 126 runs.

Key Moment

Suryakumar cycled through two shots facing off to a Ferguson thunderbolt in the penultimate over. First a kind of forehand swat, because he was expecting the short ball. But seeing it was climbing a little higher than he anticipated, he switched to a ramp and got a six over third man.

The numbers

7 The number of sixes Suryakumar hit in his blitzkrieg 111. The rest of the Indian players combined hit two.
62 Runs scored by Suryakumar in the last five overs. He didn't face a single ball in the last over.

What they said

"Numero Uno showing why he's the best in the world. Didn't watch it live but I'm sure this was another video game innings by him."
- Virat Kohli on Twitter
"It's just actually a bit hard to watch because it just makes everyone else look so much worse for not being able to do that."
- Glenn Maxwell

The closest contenders

Virat Kohli
82 not out vs Pakistan, T20 World Cup Melbourne

Kohli was 12 off 21 at one point, chasing 160 on a seamer-friendly pitch. Then, in the 18th over, he drove a low full toss on leg stump from Shaheen Afridi to the boundary and pumped his fist to mark the moment, though India needed 37 off 15 still. Perhaps because he knew what was coming - he would smack 26 off his next eight balls and win India the game.
Bhanuka Rajapaksa
71 not out vs Pakistan, Asia Cup final, Dubai

Rajapaksa rescued Sri Lanka from 58 for 5, stitching together a 36-ball 58-run partnership with Wanindu Hasaranga to help Sri Lanka post 170 on a pitch where seven of the opposition batters were knocked out for single-digits.

Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo