Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting said when it comes to “innovation and skill” he hasn’t seen anyone better than Suryakumar Yadav and feels that the Indian middle-order batter could even inspire a new breed of players to emulate his style of play and take T20 cricket to "another level" globally.
"I think innovation-wise, skill-wise, I haven't seen a better player (than Suryakumar) in the game. What it's going to do as well, a lot of other players are going to try and do the things he's doing and it's going to add another level of skill to the T20 game all around the world. Someone said during the IPL this year (2022), there are going to be guys who are going to try and do exactly the same as what Surya's doing, and that's going to be great for the game," Ponting told ICC.
The 32-year-old is currently the top-ranked T20I batter and has been phenomenal in this format for India, having smashed 1578 runs in 43 innings at an average of 46.41 and a strike rate of 180.34. He was also named the ICC Men's T20I Cricketer of the Year after he became only the second batter in the world to score 1000-plus runs in a calendar year.
Ponting said SKY is the greatest innovator in the shortest format of the game. "He's probably doing it better than anyone's ever done it right now. We talk about players that can score 360 degrees … some of the shots he's hitting back behind the wicket-keeper and over fine leg are just remarkable."
Ponting added that SKY has taken his stroke-play to another level and is playing some really audacious shots like flicking short balls for sixes over the wicketkeeper's head. “Five or six years ago, he started doing that (innovating) a lot in the IPL. He was very good at flicking the ball over deep-backward square and getting the ball over fine-leg.
“Surya's now been able to hit short balls on the way up and flick short balls over the keeper's head and they're going for six, not just for four. I didn't think he'd get to the level he's got to, to be quite honest.
“He's worked as hard as he has -- you can probably tell by his body shape. He's probably fitter than he's ever been, being around the Indian set up with the likes of Kohli and Shreyas Iyer and these guys, who are exceptionally fit young guys."
(With inputs from PTI)