Suryakumar Yadav's batting position in India's T20I side was never in doubt. In a regular side with captain Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli in, Suryakumar's traditional spot has been No.4. In fact, since the 2021 T20 World Cup, he has batted the most number of times (six out of 15 innings) at that spot, scoring 195 runs at a strike rate of 199 and it includes a century as well.
Yet, there has been an ongoing debate surrounding his ideal batting spot in the line-up, a discussion that ignited amid the recently-concluded West Indies series where he was asked to open in all the five matches. And joining the bandwagon on Monday, former Australia captain Ricky Ponting gave his verdict on Suryakumar's ideal batting position.
Ponting, in conversation on The ICC Review, was rather adamant about the India batter's place in the T20I XI, hailing that "he played better than anybody else in the Indian team for the last couple of series" and backed him for a place in the top order.
"It's got to be in the top four, I think. I said stick with him (Virat) in his traditional spot, which has been number three," Ponting said. "For Surya, it's one, two or four. I think he can open, but I think he's probably, you know, if you could probably just keep him away from the new ball, let him control the middle part of the game outside the Powerplay, through in the middle, and if he's in at the end, you know what can happen."
Ponting seems to have got his numbers perfectly right for Suryakumar. In the 15 times he has batted for India since the last World Cup, Suryakumar's innings progression shows remarkable increase in his strike rate as he nears he reaches the death overs, where it shoots up from 166 at the start of the middle overs to 258.8 in the slog overs.
"I think in the top four is, well, actually I'll go out on a limb: I don't want him to open. I think number four is his best spot," Ponting declared.
The Australia legend then hailed the India batter saying that it is his "self-belief in his own game and his own skill" that sets him apart from his competitors.
"Surya (Yadav) scores 360 degrees around the ground, a bit like an AB de Villiers did when he was in his actual prime. The lap shots, the late cuts, you know, the ramps over the keeper's head. He can hit down the ground," Ponting said.
"He hits really well over the leg side, flicks to deep backward square particularly well, and he's a good player of fast bowling and is a good player of spin bowling."