India’s Suryakumar Yadav again stamped himself on Sunday as the best T20 batter in the world, unleashing a century against New Zealand that triggered an outpouring of plaudits.
After arriving in the middle at first drop in the second match of the series between India and New Zealand, the top-ranked batter in the International Cricket Council’s T20 rankings struck an unbeaten 111 runs from 51 balls.
The 32-year-old notched 11 fours and seven sixes in the New Zealand city of Mount Maunganui to set up a 65-run win for his side.
READ MORE: Legend’s selection plea to losing Wallabies coach
READ MORE: Kangaroos win World Cup to end Samoa fairytale
READ MORE: FIFA president’s ‘offensive’ speech lifts mask on ‘dirty’ World Cup
The Indians posted 6-191 and took 18.5 overs to bowl the Kiwis out for 126 runs, securing a 1-0 series lead after the first game was washed out.
More than a decade after capturing a T20 international hat-trick, New Zealand quick Tim Southee snared the second of his career.
But the hat-trick, produced in the final over of India’s innings, was overshadowed by Yadav’s heroics.
He flayed the New Zealand attack in all directions and pulled off some outrageous strokeplay.
“Suryakumar, that was out of this world,” Kiwis captain Kane Williamson said in a Spark Sport interview after the match.
“One of the best knocks that I think I’ve ever seen, and some of those shots I have never seen. It was next level.”
Former New Zealand wicketkeeper Ian Smith said on the Spark Sport broadcast that Yadav’s innings “just caught fire”.
“But it was no slogging,” Smith added.
“It was all within control, it was placement, it was just batsmanship.”
Southee snares T20I hat-trick
Former Kiwis skipper Stephen Fleming said Yadav’s knock was of “the highest class”.
“You will not see better than this. The way he manipulated the bowling, the field, the areas that he put the ball, the timing and the absolute class in which he went about his work … yeah, it’s classy,” Fleming said on the Spark Sport coverage.
“I’d say New Zealand were a little bit guilty of not having the right fields at the right time, but this guy just picked it part.
“An absolute masterclass of T20 batting.”
Virat Kohli, who’s been rested for the limited-overs tour of New Zealand, praised his gun teammate in a Twitter post.
“Numero uno showing why he’s the best in the world,” Kohli wrote.
“Didn’t watch it live but I’m sure this was another video game innings by him.”
Revered cricket commentator Harsha Bhogle showed his admiration in a humorous Twitter post.
“I need a breathing apparatus,” Bhogle joked.
“Sky is taking our breath away.”
In another post, Bhogle wrote: “Such joy watching a player at the height of his powers”.
Yadav’s sizzling knock against New Zealand followed a magnificent T20 World Cup campaign, which saw him pummel 239 runs at the average of 59.75 and strike-rate of 189.68.
Several of Yadav’s teammates, including Rishabh Pant, embraced the superstar as he spoke to Spark Sport while walking from the field.
“In T20 cricket, a hundred is always special,” Yadav said.
“But it was also important for me to bat till the end. That’s what (batting partner) Hardik (Pandya) was telling me from the other end: just try and play till the 18th-19th over, we need a score of 180-185.
“Really happy with the score on the board.
“I’m enjoying batting this way, I’ve been doing the same thing in the nets, all practice sessions, and going out (to the middle), all these things happening, I’m very happy with that.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!
Every FIFA World Cup squad’s dollar value: $1.95b team that dwarfs Socceroos