“Dreams do come true”, he says over the phone, his voice still bubbling with excitement but having a sense of calm. A kind of calm that is unmissable just like his batting during pressure situations.
Surya or SKY as he is fondly called, spoke with BCCI.TV about his selection, the things that he is looking forward to, virtues of being patient and more.
Newsbreak, tears of joy & an emotional video call
I was very excited as I got to know (about the selection). I was sitting in the room, trying to watch a movie, and got a notification on the phone that I was picked in the Indian team for England T20Is. I started crying after seeing my name in the team. I called my parents, my wife and my sister. We had a video call and all of us started crying.
Along with me, they have also been trying to live this dream for a long time. It has been a very long journey and they are the ones who have stood by me throughout. It was really great to see them happy and have those tears of happiness.
Everyone wants to play for India. But finally, my time has come.
Excitement to learn from Virat Kohli
Firstly, (I am) looking forward to spending some quality time with the team and soaking in the atmosphere when I reach Ahmedabad. I have always dreamt of playing under Virat Kohli for a long time and I am excited to go and learn a lot from Virat as quickly as I can so that I can be a better player.
I have played against him in the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the way he reflects his energy on the field even after achieving so much for India is remarkable. I have seen him on the field keeping himself charged all the time. His want-to-win attitude is something to learn.
Over the years, playing with the Mumbai Indians, I have got to learn and know so much about Virat from Hardik Pandya as well. Whenever we have been together, I have asked Hardik what Virat does differently during the practice sessions that he is the best on the ground.
Hardik has also told me that Virat practices differently, the energy he has in the practice sessions – be it batting or fielding – is completely different and he is the same on the ground.
So, these are some of the things that I want to learn from him which makes him the best.
The Rohit Sharma factor
I still remember the time when I was batting with Rohit Sharma during my Ranji Trophy debut. When I walked out to bat, there were a lot of butterflies in my stomach. He just came up to me and said, “Mate, just keep things very simple. You have worked very hard to reach here. You just have to go out and express yourself. Think about nothing. Just express yourself.”
It is amazing to see that his approach towards the game or his batting or his advice to the young crop have still not changed. Even today, he tells me the same thing. His presence has really helped me a lot.
Having played under Rohit, I have learnt many things about him and his game, how he keeps things very simple and his astute understanding of the game.
IPL, Mumbai Indians & the support over the years
My role was completely different when I was with the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). I used to bat no. 6 or at no. 7. So, mentally, things were a little different. But when I came to Mumbai Indians (MI), I got the opportunity to bat up the order, go out and express myself with whatever I had in me.
Mumbai Indians gave me the responsibility and gave me chances that I had to grab with both hands. It has changed me mentally and physically as well. Both things run together; your mental space is very important, and the game demands good fitness levels as well. I started working more on my fitness, gave extra time to work on my skills because I knew I had to deliver batting higher up the order for the franchise. It made me a better cricketer. The opportunities, challenges and responsibilities MI gave me in 2018, I felt I had to work even harder.
I feel that MI is like an institution. There’s a proper system where there's a lot of support staff, helping every player to improve and go ahead to become a better cricketer. It has helped me a lot in my progression. The processes and routines that I had, I started polishing those more after speaking to them (members of the support staff), spending more time with them, learning from them about their personal experiences about how they used to do it when they were playing for their country or franchise.
Patience & a motivating father
I still remember, whenever I used to play a tournament or come back home after a series or the IPL, I used to get disappointed when my name was not there in any of the teams – India, India A or Zonal Teams.
My father who has been a great motivating factor for me in life used to tell me, “You just have to work hard and if it is not coming your way, you have to work even more and put that extra yard to be a little different.”
He would tell me, “Keep working hard, when the time is right, that door will open and then, you have to grab it with both hands.”
I am glad I have found a door right now, and it is time I grab it with both hands.