Suryakumar Yadav, currently ranked No.2 in the world in ICC T20I rankings, has been India's best batter in the shortest form of the game in the last 12 months or so. The right-hander has broken the record for most T20I runs in a calendar year by an Indian - 732 runs in 21 innings at a staggering strike rate of 180.29 - with about three months and a World Cup still to go. The previous best was by Shikhar Dhawan when he had scored 689 runs in 17 innings at a strike rate of 147 in 2018. Virat Kohli's best year in T20Is came in 2016 when he scored 641 runs in 13 innings but his strike rate was only 140.
In the series opener against South Africa, where batters of both teams struggled against the moving ball - South Africa managed just 106 in 20 overs with three of their batters getting dismissed for a golden duck while India registered their lowest ever score (17/1) in the powerplay of a T20I - Suryakumar smashed an unbeaten 50 off just 33 balls with three sixes and five fours.
Ahead of the second T20I in Guwahati, South Africa all-rounder Wayne Parnell had no qualms in admitting that Suryakumar is currently one of the best T20 batters going around in the world.
"I think personally, from what I've watched over the last couple of months, I think he is probably one of the best T20 betters at the moment," Parnell told reporters on Saturday.
The left-arm medium pacer was particularly impressed with Suryakumar's ability to score all around the ground. "He scores 360, which is very difficult for bowlers to try and defend. I think it's just about being strong and trying to take each ball as it sort of comes. You know, he's allowed to play good shots. I think the other night, he played some really, really beautiful shots, but it was a lucky day. And maybe, you know, a different night that goes to hand. But having said that, I think you know, he's certainly been a guy that I've really enjoyed watching over the last couple of months. He's certainly playing really good cricket," he added.
On being asked about South Africa's disappointing batting performances in the first T20I in Thiruvananthapuram, especially in the powerplay where they lost five wickets in the first three overs of their innings for just 9 runs, Parnell said it was a difficult wicket and India exploited the conditions well. The all-rounder, however, promised to come back strong in the remaining two matches in the series.
"I mean, the first T20 didn't go according to plan. But obviously, you know, a new venue sometimes lets you not think about things that went wrong in the first game. Our betters are world-class. So it's not something for us to panic about," he added.