Suryakumar Yadav praises Rohit Sharma SKY high and talks of his magical catch

Suryakumar Yadav with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli
Suryakumar Yadav with Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli (PC: ICC/X)

It was 130am IST time when Suryakumar Yadav messaged me. I had sent him an Oped piece I had done for ET and it was titled, “Anatomy of a Catch.” His message was funny. It read, “Arre apne itna bara piece likh diya hai! Par who catch ekdom jam gaya hai kya kehte ho”. Very Surya. Witty, funny, passionate and a friend. I asked him if he’d want to talk a little more in detail about the catch, about Rohit Sharma as leader and Virat Kohli and Rahul Dravid. My questions were overflowing.

Surya, as always, was forthcoming. I hadn’t spoken to him in two years because of reasons everyone knows. And even during that time he was always forthcoming, including meeting me on Diwali in Australia, an incident I have referred to in my book, Banned: A social media trial.

On the night the hurricane was raging in Barbados and things weren’t okay, cell phone signals were fluctuating. Surya was finding it tough to get the video going. That’s when we agreed on recording it as a podcast. And it was done at 2am, early morning.

Excerpts from the conversation:

Boria- Surya, first let me tell our viewers why this is an audio interview rather than video. And my first question has to be about the miracle catch of yours. A catch that is now being compared with Kapil paaji’s catch of Sir Viv in 1983. It was a defining moment and must say gave us the title. What was going through your mind when you started running after Miller had hit that full toss?

Surya- Boria da, when I started running I wasn’t thinking of the catch. I was running with every iota of strength in my legs to make sure I somehow save the boundary. I wanted to throw the ball back in and save two or three runs at least for the team. And honestly I wasn’t thinking of the catch. When I reached the ball and it came into my hands I realised there was an opportunity for me to take the catch and toss the ball up. I felt I could go out and come back in to complete that catch. I had 5-7 seconds to make that call and let me say to you I will forever remember these 5-7 seconds in my life. I made the call and it worked out for us.

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Boria- We speak about pressure Surya. Come to think of it that catch changed everything. It redeemed a 11 year long curse. Tell me about the pressure, the presence of mind, what was it like mentally?

Surya- I will be lying if I tell you there was no pressure or I did not feel it. I was aware that if the catch did not happen things could go against us. So of course I was aware. But then I have to tell you that in practice between New York and Barbados we have taken at least 150 of such catches under the supervision of our fielding coach T Dilip Sir. He has worked very hard with us and each one of us have taken out 15 mins during practice to train with him. As batters we can contribute only in one department and often fielding goes unnoticed. But here each one of us have trained separately and the results are showing. The catch, I will say, is a product of the work we have put in.

Boria- Tell me a little about Rohit Sharma. As leader he has excelled even by his own lofty standards. That innings against Australia, England, Rohit has been fantastic.

Surya- He has taught us all how to stay calm under pressure while he himself stayed calm right through. He told us not to think too far ahead of ourselves. We even had a motto- Keep your mind where your feet is”. Rohit bhai gave us this and it meant we shouldn’t think about the super 8 or semi final or final. We needed to take things one step at a time. He showed us how to bat in this format and after the 2023 world cup where he batted brilliantly, he did so once again. The truth is if I start speaking about Rohit bhai I will need days if not weeks to do so Boria da!

Boria- I am glad you say that to be honest. He has finally got what he deserved. I also want you to speak about Virat. To bid farewell to this format in this way- sport is about timing and he couldn’t have timed it better?

Surya- He is a phenomenon. We have all learnt so much from him. When the chips are down that’s when he brings out the best in him. Even when he doesn’t score, you should just see him in the field. He is a livewire. He wants to save every run, take every catch and his energy is just infectious. That’s the best thing about Virat Kohli you know. When I think that I won’t see them both play this format, I have to say I am getting emotional. I will miss them both in the dressing room.

Boria- And reflect on your own journey for me. When you started playing for India in 2021 to now- you always wanted this world title and now it is yours. You are world champion. Has it dawned on you yet? Tell me about your journey.

Surya- Thanks for saying it Boria da. Yes this world title has always meant the world to me. That’s why you play the sport. You want to do well for your country, make a difference to the team, be counted when it matters. That’s what I have always tried to do. It means the world to me you know. To see so many people happy, to see family members happy, to see fans happy, you know you have done something special. But I don’t think we have all soaked in yet. We are still in Barbados and only after we reach India will we really know what this means. I can then tell you more but I can surely say it has given me a sense of tremendous satisfaction.

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