That strike rate is too high to be accompanied by the consistency which that average represents. T20 batters are either attacking or consistent. They are very rarely both at the same time; even if they are, they aren’t for as long as Suryakumar has managed to be.
Suryakumar has benefited from playing a lot of T20Is within two years of his debut, though, that too while being in prime form. Most other batters have had T20I appearances spread over longer periods. So the vagaries of time are likely to have affected the form of batters such as Russell.
Importantly, this incredible run of form hasn’t come scoring easy runs. Suryakumar has bailed India’s batting out on a few occasions now, scoring in conditions and against attacks that the other India batters have struggled to score off.
Since 2018, batters from Full-Member teams have averaged a little more than 23.5 and scored at a strike rate of 128.7. Based on these numbers, we could possibly assume an average of 25 and a strike rate of 130 is par for the course in T20Is in the last-five years.
Since Suryakumar’s debut, there have been seven occasions when India’s batting – excluding him – has underperformed on both counts of average and strike rate (averaged below 25 and scored at a rate below 130) in T20Is. He has scored 441 runs at an average of 88.2 and a strike rate of 196 in these matches, inclusive of two of his three hundreds. His contribution to India’s totals (runs off the bat only) in these games has been a whopping 40.5%.
In 15 matches when India’s top order has underperformed in terms of average only, Suryakumar has scored 770 runs at an average of 64.2 and a strike rate of 184.2. His contribution has been 31.9%. In another 15 matches when India’s top order has underperformed in terms of strike rate only, he has scored 852 runs at an average of 77.5 and a strike rate of 186.4. His contribution in these matches has been 36.7%.
More than half his runs have been scored in matches where the other India batters have scored at a rate of less than 130. Significantly, in these matches Suryakumar has scored at a strike rate that’s higher than the combined strike rate of the other India batters by 67.2%.
Among 104 batters with at least 15 such innings (performing when their team-mates have been below par) since 2018, no one else comes close to Suryakumar – either in terms of the percentage contribution they make to their team’s runs, or in out-pacing their team-mates.
Overall, when Suryakumar has been at the crease in T20Is, India’s batters at the opposite end have scored 1066 runs at an average of 27.3 and a strike rate of 136.7. Suryakumar averages 20.5 runs more per bowler dismissal than his partners in the middle and strikes at 44 runs more per 100 balls. No batter with a cut-off of at least 1000 runs (in the last five years) comes even close to him in out-batting their partners.
Having such skills perhaps equips him to score runs against the best bowlers in the format as well. Since 2021, no batter has scored more runs than him against the top-20 T20I bowlers according to the ICC rankings. Suryakumar also has the highest strike rate against these bowlers among batters with at least 200 runs against them. With an average of 38.2 and a strike rate of 162.8 against these bowlers, he provides the best combination of consistency and batting aggression.
Suryakumar has taken T20 batting to a level previously unseen in international cricket. Like with all great runs of form, Suryakumar’s purple patch will eventually come to an end. But his numbers thus far have already shown that consistency and aggression need not be mutually exclusive.
Graphics produced by Ashwini Adole
Shiva Jayaraman is a senior stats analyst at ESPNcricinfo @shiva_cricinfo