Ashwin reveals how shrewd Mitchell Santner exposed a chink in Suryakumar Yadav's T20I game
After dominating Sri Lanka at the start of the year and continuing on his rich vein of form in T20I, Suryakumar Yadav had a relatively quieter series by his own esteemed standards against New Zealand. The batter did play a couple of critical knocks but his overall tally for the three games stood at 97 runs at an unnatural SR of 124.35.
Now that may have been due to the fact that the first two T20Is of the series in Ranchi and Lucknow were played on dry turning pitches that made it difficult to line up the ball. But from the outside, veteran spinner R Ashwin reckoned, the captaincy shown by Kiwis' stand-in skipper Mitchell Santner also played a huge role in curbing the adventurous strokemaker.
Speaking on his YouTube channel, Ashwin said Santner spotted an area of Suryakumar Yadav's game that he fetches a lot of runs with and cut it down through a specific field setting over the three T20Is, forcing the batter to play out of his comfort zone.
Ashwin lauded that aspect of Santner's captaincy since his troops managed to exert some pressure on a player who usually breaks free and dominates the opposition in the shortest format of the game.
Ashwin lauds Santner's captaincy for Suryakumar Yadav
"Mitchell Santner has led the side really well. I wanted to bring up this point today," Ashwin said before pointing out what exactly the left-arm spinner did in his captaincy role to somewhat restrict the freeflowing Indian batter.
For Ashwin, it was placing the long-on wider than it's traditional mode of operation since Suryakumar Yadav plays his flicks in that region with unerring accuracy and frequency, fetching a lot of boundaries to ease up the pressure on himself against spin.
The Indian off-spinner said he doesn't go straight in the 'V' as often as other batters do, which compelled New Zealand to think a little out of the box, setting the field for his preferred scoring option and forcing him do something different.
"Suryakumar Yadav plays a sort of clip," Ashwin said. "He will place it wider of long-on towards the left of straightish mid-wicket. Whenever he plays that shot, it will go for a one-bounce four. So they (Kiwis) didn't have a straightish long-on for Suryakumar."
"They had him wide and asked him (SKY) if he can hit straight and when he tried it, he got out (caught). In Suryakumar Yadav's engine room of T20I batting, this is a crucial area of his game against spin. He plays the inside-out shot over extra cover really well. We also know that he plays the sweep really well."
Ashwin said spinners look to pitch the ball shorter to Suryakumar Yadav than normal to ensure he can't play his favourite flick shot to the on-side or not be able to advance at the ball and hit out.
"To not allow him to step hit against the spinners, they will pitch it shorter instead of pitching it up. (Then also) Suryakumar Yadav will punch down the ground beautifully in that area and either get a two or a four."
But when it comes to the flick, Ashwin said, "they (New Zealand) not only stopped him but also got him out", forcing him to ultimately chip the ball straighter instead in the second T20I and run two rather than fetch the boundary like has been doing.