Calcutta: For Suryakumar Yadav, playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders has been a life-changing experience. The 23-year-old youngster says that he is enjoying his stint with the side and is learning a lot from captain Gautam Gambhir, coach Trevor Bayliss, team mentor Wasim Akram and a host of other seniors.
“This is a life-changing experience for me because playing 14 games in a row in a new team is something new for me. I am really enjoying the atmosphere over here.
“KKR have backed youngsters from the last five years and they have also backed me well. Gambhir is a really good and a cool captain and has supported me well. He backs everybody, whether it is a senior or a youngster. He is a gem of a person,” Suryakumar told IPL’s official website.
“In fact, I will give credit to the entire team. The entire team management, including Bayliss, Akram and Gambhir, has backed me to the core.
“Before the first game, I asked Bayliss about my role, and he told me, ‘You are a free bird from our side; you can bat however you want to. And whenever you go in, just stick around for five balls, and then, you can play whatever you want’. I did that in the first match, against Mumbai Indians.
“I feel that my role in this team is to get as many runs as possible when I walk in to bat. I have prepared myself while keeping in mind that I would come in to bat between overs 17 to 20 and would get 8 to 10 balls. So, I need to score 18 to 20 runs at a brisk pace, which will help the team,” Suryakumar added.
In KKR’s match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, it was Suryakumar who hit the winning runs. Asked what was going through his mind when he went out to bat, he said: “When I was sitting in the dugout, I just said one thing, ‘Till Yusuf Pathan bats, it is not difficult for us to get the target in 15.2 overs (to finish second on the points table).’ But Gautam Gambhir came up to me and said, ‘Yusuf is not the only person who is going to get 50-60 runs, you too have to contribute 10 -15 runs.’
“Then Akram Sir came to me and asked if I had butterflies in my stomach. I replied yes and he said: ‘That’s it, you are going to perform’. Just go there, keep calm and just think about one ball at a time, and we will do it in 15.2 overs.” And that’s all I followed. I didn’t think about anything else. It was just that I had to get that total, but at the same time keep calm.”