Chirag Suri says he is happy to be making up for lost time at the Abu Dhabi T10, after Covid kept him sidelined from the sport.
The 25-year-old batsman is one of a number of UAE players who have caught the eye with outstanding feats in the 10-over competition at Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Ahead of Tuesday’s fixtures, Suri had the highest average in the competition (91), and the highest combined strike-rate and batting average total.
On that measure, his tally of 330.47 exceeds the two West Indian powerhouses Nicholas Pooran (324.71) and Evin Lewis (308.57). He has hit three times as many sixes (nine) as he has fours.
His strong form is not a new thing. In all cricket in the past 12 months, Suri averages 66. But it says much about the troubles both he and the sport have faced that that is drawn from just five T20 internationals, and three T10 innings.
Suri missed the Emirates D20 domestic tournament in December with a rib injury.
He then returned a positive Covid test the day before the UAE’s one-day international series against Ireland, for which he had been named as the vice-captain of the national team for the first time.
“It’s been a rough couple of months, so I’ve been glad to be back out there,” Suri said.
“I was playing a training game, and we don’t know how it happened, but I got a fractured rib.
"That meant I was out for three weeks, but when I started to rehab after two, I couldn’t even sleep.
“I had to lie so still to get any sleep. I recovered from that, got back to doing my basics, then I started playing really well.
“We had a warm up game against Ireland and I top scored in that game, so I was feeling really good.
“Then the next day, I got a positive test. I said, ‘This can’t be happening, I feel absolutely fine. I can’t have it, please can I do another test?’
“Then that came back positive, too. I was shifted to the isolation hotel, and had to stay there for 10 to 12 days. The whole time I was totally asymptomatic.”
Suri says he spent his time in lockdown assessing how to go about improving his game.
“The last couple of months have not been easy, but I knew mentally that once I get my opportunity I would make the most of it,” he said.
“You get time to reflect on things, and it helps you – watching cricket, seeing what people are doing, what is working and what is not working.
“These kind of things can happen. You don’t need to think to yourself, ‘Oh, I could have been training now’.
"It is just a case of looking at the positives. Luckily, things are coming together nicely now.”
Suri’s T10 success with Bangla Tigers has been predicated on a plan of trying to score at a rate of two runs per delivery. His current rate for this season is 2.39.
That method emanated from a discussion he had during the last T10 with Yuvraj Singh, the former India batsman who is a personal friend of Suri’s, and attended his wedding last year.
“In this sort of a tournament, it is not about getting a look-in – that is an old-fashioned way of doing it,” Suri said.
“If the ball is in the slot, it has to go, even if it’s the first ball. That is what I’m working on.
“Speaking to Yuvi, he said, ‘Chirag, if you face 10 balls, and hit two or three of them for sixes or boundaries, if you milk the rest for singles, you are still scoring at more than two a ball’.
“It is about applying yourself, and making sure you have the numbers. At the end of the day, you cannot be stupid or reckless.
"You still have to play good cricket shots, and that’s what I’m looking to try and do.”