Suryakumar Yadav’s ODI record, which includes 384 runs in 16 matches at an average of 32 and a best score of 64, must rank right up there among abnormalities. Nothing, other than the small number of games, justifies his so-far average record.

The Mumbai hitter achieved his third T20I century in only his 43rd innings against Sri Lanka in Rajkot on Saturday, providing more evidence that his ODI statistics would improve. More T20I centuries have only been scored by Rohit Sharma (4). Yadav’s unbroken 112 off 51 balls saw him reach several statistical highs, as is become routine. The second-fastest Indian to reach the three-figure milestone was Rohit in 2017, when he scored a century in only 35 balls against Sri Lanka in Indore.

He is the only batsman to reach three tonnes without starting the batting, and each of his centuries—the previous two were against England and New Zealand in Nottingham and Mount Maunganui, respectively—took fewer than 50 deliveries.

Yadav is creating a niche for himself by wreaking havoc as a middle-order hitter in a game where the big runs are largely picked up by the openers. For instance, on Saturday, he entered the batting order in the sixth over at number four, and with 11 balls remaining in the innings, he still got his century. Because of his incredible six-hitting ability—his nine sixes on Saturday were the second-most by an Indian hitter, behind only Sharma’s 10 during the Indore innings—he consistently accomplishes this feat with plenty of extra balls. His aerial strikes were dispersed over the field, with his customary favorite fine-leg area being heavily pounded.

Suryakumar has been rewriting the norms of T20 batting for over two years—he made his debut in the shortest format against England in March 2021—especially in the context of India. The top three Sharma, KL Rahul, and Virat Kohli have paid the price in successive T20 World Cups for debating whether to adopt a more aggressive strategy at the expense of consistency, but the 32-year-old has shown that the two characteristics do not necessarily have to be antagonistic. Surya has played 45 games, averaging 46.41 and striking 180.34. He is the top T20 hitter in the world because of this.

“You don’t need to tell him anything given the state of lucidity and the shape he has been in. He is quite transparent about his goals. He does so well in this format because of this. He is confident in his skills. After the game, captain Hardik Pandya told reporters that he just goes out and has fun.

On Saturday, he made decisions with clarity, a quality that greatly contributes to his consistency. He was able to predict the bowler’s delivery spot many times throughout his inning and adjust his setup appropriately. For instance, in the 11th over, Chamika Karunaratne, a medium-pacer, bowled, and he hit a short ball outside of the off-stump in front of extra cover for four. He seemed to anticipate Karunaratne’s bigger ball at the stumps and scooped it for six over fine-leg.