India vs West Indies: Will Shreyas Iyer’s impressive audition solve India’s middle-order muddle?
“He (Iyer) is a very confident guy and has the right attitude. Really got the tempo going and took the pressure off me. After I got out, he got the extra runs as well,”Kohli said at the end of the match.Updated: Aug 12, 2019 11:09 IST
After bossing the domestic class scene and after impressing with consistent performances in the Indian Premier League, Shreyas Iyer got a chance to do justice when he included in the Indian team. He followed it with scores of 9, 88, 65, 18, 30. There were few gutsy innings in South Africa as well and yet, when the side returned, he was dropped. Quite surprisingly, there were no murmurs about the axe and there were no reports about any ‘tiff’ with the management. Yet, India floundered to find a middle-order solution and they invested in Ambati Rayudu for a very long time before shunting him away for Vijay Shankar for the World Cup. And then, Shankar was injured and in walked Rishabh Pant for the number 4 slot.
Hence, there was disappointment in the young man and he voiced it when he said that if there is talent, a player deserves to get a longer rope to do justice to his potential. When the first match of the series was washed out, Iyer saw another opportunity slip by and thus, prayed for a full match so that he gets to stake his claim to whatever batting position assigned to him.
So when Rishabh Pant marched in at number 4 and waddled off after playing another iffy stroke, the moment had arrived for Iyer and he started confidently. The short ball tactic which had tied up Rishabh Pant was a scoring opportunity for the right-hander and he quickly hit his stride. Equally adept against Roston Chase, who had managed to tie Rohit Sharma down, Iyer was motoring along, hitting gaps and rotating the strike - the type of player Virat Kohli likes in the middle order.
The captain praised the confidence of the young man and said that he liked the attitude shown by him when out in the middle. “He (Iyer) is a very confident guy and has the right attitude. Really got the tempo going and took the pressure off me. After I got out, he got the extra runs as well,”Kohli said at the end of the match.
There was clarity in decision making, there were the strokes which kept the pressure on the bowlers and then, there was also plenty of intent - all the traits which had made Kohli what he is in ODI cricket. Yes, it is too quick to jump the gun and sterner challenges await, but Iyer gave a great account of himself and if these innings keep coming along, that rope, which was cut short without any proper reason, might keep getting longer.
Before this West Indies series, the young man had outlined his ambitions to stay put and put a price on his wicket and his spot in the batting order.
“I deserve a chance in the Indian team. My performances in the ‘A’ series should count. My goal is to be better than the previous season, I want to grow as an individual and become more mature as a player. I want to try to bat till the end,” Iyer, who averages 52.18 in first-class cricket, said.
For any discussion around Indian cricket will be incomplete without the heartbreak of the semi-finals in the World Cup where a distraught skipper spoke about the margins and how his side failed to crawl over the line. There were gaping holes in the side and even if the management did not want to concede them, lack of a proper batsman at number 4 was still one of the them.
Iyer got the score in Trinidad, but Pant came out to bat at number 4 - a position which is generally occupied by a specialist batsman. Perhaps, just perhaps, the selectors and the management pay heed to what it being said outside, for in Indian cricket, the selection muddle is more convoluted than the middle-order apprehensions. So Iyer stayed back, he used the sluggish nature of the pitch to cut, nurdle, ramp, tickle off the hips and run hard to keep even Kohli interested.
Until the wise men in the Indian dressing room decide, Iyer has to bat wherever he has been asked to bat and like the young man said before the match, he cannot really choose a position.
“He (Virat) supported me very well, we took the ones and twos, hit the boundaries when it came. We decided 250 was a good score, obviously we got 30 runs extra. He told me to bat at least until the 45th over, I am thankful for what I managed. I want to stay in the team for a while, the consistency is always important, I want to play well and contribute to the team,” the young man said after the match.
We wait and watch, Iyer needs to watch and score!
First Published: Aug 12, 2019 10:41 IST