Surya’s unbeaten knock came against a team comprising a bunch of semi-professionals, but still, his dominance was impressive. As he propelled India to a target that was beyond the batting credentials of Hong Kong, Virat Kohli bowed to him and decided to walk behind Surya back to the dressing room.
Kohli, a man used to playing eye-catching knocks and grabbing the spotlight, was nearly lost in the shadow of Surya’s brilliance. For a man grinding back into form, Kohli was astounded by Surya’s nonchalance while dismissing the disciplined Hong Kong attack on a dual-paced pitch.
Surya himself is still getting used to the growing appreciation.
“It was a heartwarming gesture from Virat Kohli. I have never experienced it. I was wondering why he wasn’t walking ahead and then when I realised, I asked him to walk together. He is much more experienced than me,” Surya said, expressing his awe at Kohli’s gesture.
Surya’s game is everything that the new Team India management, under head coach Rahul Dravid and captain Rohit Sharma, promised to deliver. This is the brand of cricket they want this team to play: ultra-aggressive and fearless.
Ramps, sweeps, inside-out shots over covers, guides between point and short-third or the usual lofted hits over the bowler’s head, it appeared Surya wanted to bare his armoury in whatever little time he had in the middle.
“I feel it’s all about how you think and what energy you bring to the group. I feel I have been batting the same way since the last three-four years. And we have the backing from the team management and the coach, who tell us to go out and express ourselves whatever the situation,” Surya said.
‘Expressing oneself ’ has been at the core of Indian cricket’s philosophy for decades now. At the moment, it’s the middle-order which is executing the desired brand of cricket, and Surya is at the forefront. Setting targets is the main aim now for the team, and Surya realizes he has to play a big part.
He is the one who has been tasked with controlling the tempo of the innings and setting it up for the batters to follow.
“It is a challenge to bat first. We are working on that exactly, like what sort of target we need to set. Today as well, we were trying to do that once we started batting first: what total it should be, what tempo and how to finish. Who are the batsmen left (to come in), what their role will be, it was very clear,” Surya said.
If I couldn’t accomplish that role, then obviously the next one, Rishabh (Pant) would have done, if not then DK (Dinesh Karthik) would have done it. Then we had Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja), even he was there to do that,” he continued and then assured the room in his own charming way: “We have enough firepower to put up whatever we
need to in the first innings. It will get done.”
He added, “I am flexible to bat at any number, wherever you tell me. I have told the coach and captain to send me at any number but just play me.”
Surya, perhaps, is the most complete T20 batter in the batting lineup right now. He has been enduring pressure situations for a while with the top three of Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul and Kohli struggling to fire. India are shuffling the middle-order to compensate for the struggles of the top order.
Surya maintained that the team was comfortable with trying out options.
“There are a lot of things we are trying and experimenting with. There are things that we want to do and it’s better to try those things in matches rather than in practice sessions,” he said.
With India’s plans still not firmed up, Surya appears the only consistent figure and has been the benchmark in the build-up to the T20 World Cup.