Suryakumar Yadav Reflects on T20 World Cup Victory and Rohit Sharma’s Inspiring Leadership

India's captain Rohit Sharma and teammates Suryakumar Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav and Mohd Siraj stand next to the winners' trophy after winning against South Africa in the ICC Men's T20 World Cup final cricket match at Kensington Oval in Bridgetown, Barbados, Saturday.
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A Night to Remember

Barely 24 hours after India’s thrilling T20 World Cup win, Suryakumar Yadav finds himself reflecting on the stark contrast between the quiet streets outside his team hotel in Barbados and the jubilant celebrations back home. Fresh from a post-win party where the team danced until the early hours, Yadav returned to find over 1,000 congratulatory messages on his phone. Despite the lack of sleep, his excitement and pride in the team’s achievement shine through, especially as he recalls the inspirational speech by captain Rohit Sharma just before the final against South Africa.

Rohit’s Powerful Speech

In an interview with The Indian Express from Barbados, Yadav shared how Rohit Sharma’s words resonated deeply with the team. “He told us to keep it simple but said, ‘I can’t climb this mountain alone. If I have to reach the peak, I will need everyone’s oxygen.’ He also said, ‘Joh bhi hai, paon mein, dimag mein, dil mein (Whatever you have in your legs, mind, and heart), just bring everything to the game. If that happens, we will not regret the night.’ We all were moved.”

Rahul Dravid’s Motivational Presentation

Coach Rahul Dravid complemented Rohit’s rousing speech with a simple yet impactful slide presentation. Dravid highlighted the vast experience within the team by showing a graph of the total T20 games played by all players, a number exceeding 800. Contrasting this, he pointed out that the coaching staff, including himself, had only played one game combined. “You are the best judge here to make the right call at the right time. So leave every other thing to us, go out there and enjoy your game,” Dravid encouraged.

A Team United by a Motto

Throughout the campaign, the team adhered to a motto: “Our mind has to be where our feet are.” Yadav explained that this approach kept them focused on the present, without worrying about the tournament’s future stages. This mindset proved crucial in their performance, especially in high-pressure moments.

Rohit’s Leadership Style

Yadav praised Rohit’s ability to connect with players off the field, fostering a supportive environment. “He connects with the players. Off the field, be it in a hotel room, or on the beach, he connects with everyone. So when a crunch situation comes, players know that he (Rohit) will back us. One feels I have to deliver for this man for the confidence and respect he gives to everyone.”

Key Moments and Lasting Memories

Reflecting on key moments of the tournament, Yadav highlighted the team’s resilience, particularly in tight games against Pakistan and South Africa. He also shared two personal highlights from the final: Coach Dravid’s rare display of exuberance when holding the trophy and Rohit Sharma’s emotional celebration on the pitch.

Dravid’s Continued Guidance

Rohit’s persuasion played a crucial role in retaining Dravid’s guidance for the World Cup. Dravid had considered stepping down after India’s loss in the 50-over World Cup final but was convinced to stay by Rohit and BCCI secretary Jay Shah. “In the end, he (Dravid) came and thanked Rohit and said, ‘Thank you, Rohit, for that phone call in November.’”

Learning from Kohli

Yadav also spoke about the influence of Virat Kohli, who announced his retirement from international T20s after the tournament. Kohli’s energy, leadership, and fitness standards left a lasting impression on Yadav. “In 2022, when I made my debut, I did most of the batting with him during the bilateral series and then the World Cup. I realized then that if I have to bat with Virat Kohli, I have to match his fitness because he takes two quick runs by pushing a ball in the gaps and then he slams a four.”

The Catch That Changed the Game

Yadav concluded by reflecting on his pivotal catch that dismissed David Miller, turning the match in India’s favor. “Many people have been sending me a photo of that catch… some have a ball picture, some have morphed the ball with the trophy. I will carry this with me for two years and will replicate it in the next World Cup. It was my fourth ICC event, and my first win. I will remember this for a long time. First is always special.”

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