'Every Team Must Have a Free Bird': Former Mumbai Coach Saw 'Shades of Kapil Dev' in Suryakumar Yadav

Last Updated: February 07, 2023, 09:41 IST

Suryakumar Yadav could make his Test debut during Australia series. (AP Photo)

Suryakumar Yadav has become world’s top-ranked T20I batter in quick time

It’s not been nearly two years since Suryakumar Yadav announced his arrival in style – blasting a stunning six off the very first delivery of his international career, that too while facing Jofra Archer. That shot was just a teaser of what was to come as the batter soon became the world’s top-ranked T20I batter, known for his 360-degree strokeplay and ability to score at a blazing pace.

Such has been his impact that SKY, as he’s popularly known, is being backed for a Test spot as well and is currently part of India’s Test squad that is to play Australia in first two matches of the Border-Gavaksar Trophy.

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In 46 T20Is innings, the 32-year-old has scored 1675 runs at a strike-rate of 175.76. These include three centuries and 13 half-centuries, a testament to his surreal consistency.

Sulakshan Kulkarni, the former Mumbai coach who saw Suryakumar during this early days with the team, recalls being told about the batter by former India captain Dilip Vengsarkar first.

And Kulkarni, a Ranji winning coach, saw shades of the legendary Kapil Dev in Suryakumar due to his free-spirited batting.

“I remember Dilip Vengsarkar first telling me about Suryakumar. He used to play for Dadar Union Sports Club initially. I had seen him bat in an U-22 match for Mumbai. So when I became the Mumbai coach in 2011, the first thing I told the team management was that Suryakumar will be my free bird. He can play the way he wants and no one will say anything to him,” Kulkarni told The Playfield Magazine.

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“I gave him the license to play his natural game because I could see shades of Kapil Dev in him. There was no better player to watch than Kapil when in full flow. Surya had an attacking game and I wanted him to continue playing that way. I always believe that every team must have a free bird who can change the complexion of the game. And for me in that team, Surya was that player,” he added.

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