Mumbai: After losing his wicket to impetuous shots last season, aggressive middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav is focusing on cutting out the frills a bit and occupying the crease more this season.
"I used to play freely. Our coach and captain gave me full freedom to bat as I wanted. From last year I have changed my game a bit by playing bad strokes when the team needed me in the middle," said Yadav, who is to lead Mumbai A against England in the tourists' second warm-up game starting at the DY Patil Stadium on Saturday.
"Staying on the wicket and getting big runs for my side will be my strategy this year. I can play my shots any time."
The 22-year-old batsman, who is also part of the Mumbai Indians IPL team, sees the match against England as a good opportunity for some of his team's members who have played at the under-25 level.
"This game is a good opportunity for everybody in our team and for the people who are in the running for Ranji Trophy (berths in Mumbai team). It's a big game for us. All the boys have come here from the under-25 match we played against Baroda. We are looking forward to play as a team."
Missing Mumbai's opening Ranji game is at the back of Yadav's mind, but he is currently focusing on the three-day game against England.
"I'm being positive and not at all disappointed but it's at the back of my mind that I am missing a first class game. Still losing a place for big guns (like Sachin Tendulkar) is not a big worry for me. I am focusing on this game."
Yadav said he and his team members are looking forward to playing against an international side. "It's a good experience for us facing players who are doing well at the international level," he said.
Ground authorities have said that it will be a track that will help pace bowlers, Yadav said, adding he was not sure whether his team will play four medium pacers - Javed Khan, Kshemal Waingankar, Balwinder Singh Sandhu Jr and Shardul Thakur.
"This is our first practise session. Hearing that it will be a bouncy and seaming track ... We will see," he said.
He was happy with the way leg-spinner Gorivale had performed in the C K Nayudu Trophy game that ended on October 29. "Gorivale bowled really well in Baroda. Did not get the opportunity to be among the wickets as most of them were taken by the fast bowlers. Javed got wickets. Shardul got five in the second innings," he said.
Asked about his younger team members having the chance to play with Cheteshwar Pujara and Shikhar Dhawan, included in the team as special invitees, Yadav said they would benefit.
"I have played with them in Duleep, Deodhar. But for them it's a big opportunity to learn skills and tactics." While Saurashtra's Pujara is to join the team on Friday night.
Asked about the difficulty in adjusting from the T20 mode in the Champions League in South Africa to a three-day game, Yadav said he was now focusing on the longer version.
"Champions League was a bad phase for us. There is nothing to talk about it. Leaving that, let's come back to a red ball game. I'm focusing on getting big runs in the season and proving myself."