Suryakumar Yadav is leading the way with an innovative approach to T20I batting that Ricky Ponting says he’s doing better “than anyone’s ever done it”.
The India right-hander led all-comers with 1,164 runs in 31 T20Is in 2022, at the formidable strike rate of 187.43 and an average of 46.56, which led to him being crowned the 2022 ICC Men’s T20I Cricketer of the Year this week.
Yadav’s commanding form across the past year also propelled him to the top of the MRF Tyres ICC Men's T20I Batting Rankings.
And when comparing Yadav’s batting style to the likes of white-ball pioneers AB De Villiers and Adam Gilchrist, Ponting heaped praise on the late-bloomer on the latest episode of The ICC Review.
“He’s probably doing it better than anyone’s ever done it right now,” Ponting said, when asked where the India star sat in relation to some of the game’s most celebrated trailblazers.
“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-backward 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.”
The 32-year-old’s impact on the game was on show in last year’s ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, during which leading and emerging batters mirrored the daring strokes that Yadav has pioneered.
“I think innovation-wise, skill-wise, I haven’t seen a better player in the game,” Ponting said.
“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 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.”
Yadav scored the third-most runs at the T20 World Cup with 239, only behind teammate Virat Kohli (296) and the Netherlands’ Max O’Dowd (242).
After continuing that imperious form in T20I series against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, Yadav this month climbed to the second-highest T20 batting rating ever recorded (908 points).
Yadav is now within striking distance of the all-time record of 915 points set by England left-hander Dawid Malan in November 2020.
“I didn’t think he’d get to the level he’s got to, to be quite honest,” Ponting said on The ICC Review.
“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.”