'Seems only you and I are looking at him as all-rounder': Former India cricketers baffled at Iyer not bowling in 1st ODI
- Rahul didn't hand Venkatesh Iyer a single over throughout the 1st ODI against South Africa.
Team India made a return to ODIs after over six months as they took on South Africa in the first match of the three-game series in Paarl on Wednesday. The first ODI also marked India's first white-ball outing since Virat Kohli was succeeded by Rohit Sharma as the full-time captain in the format; however, KL Rahul is leading the team as Rohit continues to recover from a hamstring injury.
In the first ODI at Paarl, India took the field with six bowling options including debutant Venkatesh Iyer, who made his maiden international appearance in a T20I against New Zealand in November. However, Rahul didn't hand the bowler a single over throughout the match as five bowlers – Jasprit Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ravichandran Ashwin, Shardul Thakur, and Yuzvendra Chahal bowled all fifty overs in the game.
The decision by Rahul was met with criticism from former Indian cricketers Gautam Gambhir and Aakash Chopra, who wondered whether the team management sees Iyer as an all-rounder.
“You could've given him 5-6 overs and see how he is bowling, because you're looking at him as an all-rounder,” Gambhir noted. In reply, Chopra said, “I don't know, it seems only you and I are looking at him that way.”
Chopra further cited Iyer's appearances in the three-match T20I series against New Zealand where he wasn't given the ball in the first two games.
“Because when the T20Is were there (against New Zealand), Rohit Sharma was the captain. It was a home series against New Zealand and you didn't hand him the ball in the first two matches. We kept on waiting. That happened when others were conceding 10 runs per over,” said the former India opener.
“Here, 44 overs are already gone (Iyer didn't bowl till the end of the innings) and you haven't given him an over. I don't think the team is looking at him in that manner.”