For someone who only made his Ranji Trophy debut last season, Shreyas Iyer has quickly established himself as the backbone of Mumbai’s batting.
The 21-year-old has scored 1204 runs this season, firmly establishing himself at the top of the run charts and taking Mumbai into their 45th Ranji Trophy final, where they will face Saurashtra from Wednesday. In fact, Iyer is only 211 runs short of VVS Laxman’s record for most runs in a Ranji Trophy season. The veteran Hyderabadi batsman had scored 1415 runs in the 1999-2000 season.
Apart from Laxman, only Vijay Bharadwaj (1280 runs in the 1998-99 season), Wasim Jaffer (1260 runs in 2008-09) and Kedar Jadhav (1223 in 2013-14) have managed to score more runs than Iyer in a season.
What’s commendable about the Mumbai lad’s campaign is not just the amount of runs he has amassed, but also how he has scored them — his 1204 runs have come at a strike rate of 93.84. His batting style has earned him many admirers such as Mumbai veteran Wasim Jaffer, who played for Vidarbha last season. “Shreyas has had an excellent season so far. The way he has played in this season is commendable,” the 38-year-old told HT on Monday.
Jaffer believes that Iyer has the credentials to play for India one day.
“Shreyas has proven himself not just this season, but also on a big stage like the Indian Premier League (IPL). He can play for India but if he doesn’t get a chance soon, it will be good for him as it will stoke the hunger in him. The same had happened to Ajinkya Rahane, who got a call-up to the national team very late. But when Ajinkya finally did get his chance, he grabbed it with both hands,” Jaffer, who currently holds the record for the most runs in a Ranji Trophy season for Mumbai, added.
By his own standards, Iyer has experienced a dip in form recently. His last century came against Uttar Pradesh in a group stage match in November when he scored 137 runs at a strike rate of 124.54. In the 10 innings since, his scores read: 57 and 91 vs Railways; 1 and 36 against Madhya Pradesh; 75 and 37 vs Gujarat; 45 and 81 against Jharkhand in the quarters and 90 and 58 against Madhya Pradesh in the semis.
Highest scorers in a Ranji season:
VVS Laxman (1415) in 1999-00
Vijay Bharadwaj (1280) in 1998-99
Wasim Jaffer (1260) in 2008-09
Kedar Jadhav (1223) in 2013-14
Shreyas Iyer (1204) in 2015-16