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Suryakumar Yadav is really happy with the way he's batting at the moment. He said as much after slamming an unbeaten 111 off 51 in Mount Maunganui to lift India to 191 for 6 in the second T20I against New Zealand. He also explained why he held back, relatively speaking, till the 17th over of the innings - he was 57 off 35 at the end of the 16th, before ransacking 54 off his last 16 deliveries.
"In T20 cricket, a hundred is always special," Suryakumar told the broadcasters after India's innings. "But it was also important for me to bat till the end, that's what Hardik [Pandya, his partner in an 82-run stand for the fourth wicket] was telling me from the other end. Just try and play till the 18th-19th over, we need a score of 180-185, and really happy with the score on the board.
"I'm enjoying batting this way, I've been doing the same thing in the nets, all practice sessions and going out [to the middle], all these things happening, I'm very happy with that."
Later, at the post-match press conference, he explained how he gets into his zone. "You have to do all the processes and routines the same way when you've done well. So 99% I try to do the same things on match day the same way. For example, if I have to do a gym session or if I have to eat lunch at the perfect time or if I have to take a power nap for about 15-20 minutes. These are all small small things which I try to do on game days and when I come to the ground I feel good. That is my zone.
"Also I spend a lot of time on off days with my wife. Speak to my parents a lot. The one thing that keeps me grounded is they don't talk about the game and that keeps me in a good space and I am really happy to stay in that zone for a very long time."
Suryakumar is currently the No. 1 T20I batter in the world, having piled up 1151 runs in the format in 2022 - this innings included - at a strike rate of 188.37, including two hundreds, nine fifties and a stunning 67 sixes. Of those runs, 239 came in the just-concluded T20 World Cup, at a strike rate of 189.68 - he finished that tournament with the highest strike rate among the 144 batters who totalled 10 or more runs, and the third third-highest aggregate.
On Sunday, he reflected on his journey. "I always think about the past. Whenever I am in my room or travel with my wife, we talk about how the situation was two or three years ago and how it is now and what has changed. We keep discussing about those times, too. Yes, there was a bit of frustration at that time but we always looked to take positives from those situations, [looked at] how I could become a better cricketer and level up. I tried different things like having good [healthy] food, having quality practice sessions, sleeping on time. I used to do that even before but it was not so in terms of quality. Having gone through all of it, I am enjoying the fruits of that now."
So he's cracked T20 cricket. How about Tests? "It's coming… it's coming… that time is also coming," Suryakumar said. "When we start playing, we start with red-ball [cricket]. For apne (our) Mumbai team, I have played decent amount of first class cricket. So I have a good idea of that format and I enjoy it too. Hopefully, I will also get a Test cap soon."