‘India won’t find a better player than him’: Kaif backs youngster for No. 4 spot
Former India batsman Mohammad Kaif has thrown his weight behind Shreyas Iyer and believes the youngster’s hunger to score runs makes him an asset for the Indian cricket team. Kaif, who was the assistant coach of IPL franchise Delhi Capitals, which Iyer was the captain of, feels it’s taken Iyer many years to break free from the confines of domestic cricket and now that he has, the Mumbai batsman is destined for greater things.
“I am a huge fan of Shreyas Iyer. Firstly, he has come out of domestic cricket, having played many years there. He has not got an opportunity too quickly for India. He has played IPL for a number of years, scored many runs, then only his name came. His name has come at the right time because he is hungry. He is bored of playing domestic cricket and wants to play for India,” Kaif spoke of Iyer to Aakash Chopra on his YouTube channel.
For long, India struggled to find a suitable No. 4 batsman, which proved to be a detrimental factor in their 2019 World Cup campaign. From the likes of Ambati Rayudu, KL Rahul, Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant, everyone was tried. However, Iyer, lately, with his consistent performances, seems to have solidified the No. 4 slot.
“He is mentally very sorted, has a great understanding of his game and his role. He doesn’t get angry easily and thinks a lot before speaking. He has gained a lot from captaining in the IPL because you learn to take responsibility. Since he has become captain, he has become a better player. India will not get a better player than Shreyas Iyer at No.4,” Kaif said.
Iyer was appointed captain of the Delhi Capitals midway during the 2018 season after Gautam Gambhir made stepped aside as the franchise finished bottom-dwellers. However, the year later, under Iyer, DC finished third with 18 points from 14 matches and qualified for the knockouts. With Iyer leading the way – scoring 463 runs from 16 matches with three half-century – Kaif is confident that captaining DC has gone a long way in helping Iyer’s batting.
“Captaincy made a huge difference. You won’t believe we have had a lot of meetings where we didn’t have the captain, we did the meeting and didn’t call the captain. Because he doesn’t like to talk too much. He knows about his game; he takes a little bit of information but doesn’t go too much in depth. So, we all understand that he is not a captain who should be made to sit and lectured for two hours,” Kaif said.
“We figured out that we need to give him a little freedom and let him focus on the game. Whatever load we can take from outside, we will take. Whatever information Shreyas needs, he will take from us. He is gaining a lot from that because he is coming out of his comfort zone. When you are the captain, you also need to carry the team. He was not used to that but in the IPL, he got himself out of that comfort zone.”