Suryakumar Yadav shouldered arms to a Samad Fallah delivery that pitched on the fifth stump and looked set to crash into the keeper’s gloves. Yadav, who put in a short stride across his off-stump had his bat raised textbook style, affording passage to the ball. However, the SG Test swerved in at the last minute, striking Yadav just under his thigh-pad. The Mumbai dressing room must have let out a collective sigh of relief, as C Shamsuddin’s finger stayed down.
From then on, it was Yadav all the way. He drove confidently and flicked disdainfully. He collected 18 boundaries in his knock of 120 off 139 balls, briefly giving Mumbai the advantage as they recovered from a first session where they lost their top-three batters, including the man with the most Ranji Trophy runs, Wasim Jaffer, who fell off the last ball before lunch. Mumbai finished Day One of the quarterfinal at 306 for seven with Iqbal Abdullah and Zaheer Khan at the crease.
Later, at the end of the day’s play, Yadav said that it was the close shave with the lbw appeal that had shown him that adhering to the batting textbook on a green and bouncy Wankhede wicket was not the approach he was looking for. Fallah returned after an over and seemed to be employing the same tactic, trying to cut the ball into the right-hander. This time though Yadav was ready. He shifted his weight on to the front foot and drove hard at the ball, the resounding thwack of the ball should have reinforced the belief that seeing the ball and hitting the ball was to be his plan.
It was pretty much the doctrine that he had seemed to follow when he first burst on to the scene back in 2010. Yadav was radically different than most Mumbai batsmen. Instead of grafting for his runs, he relied more on aggressive strokeplay. After a composed 73 on debut in 2010, Yadav gave a glimpse of his slam-bang style, hammering a double hundred off 232 balls against Odisha. That hundred, in which Yadav seemed at home, included big booming drives and vicious cuts. Yadav followed up his double with a ton in the next game and then reinforced his credentials in the Duleep Trophy, scoring a century on debut.