Team India Head coach Rahul Dravid has said that India team management challenged Venkatesh Iyer to play the finisher’s role in the T20I format and he did quite well. With this, he impressed everyone as well. Venkatesh Iyer, who debuted against New Zealand after the T20 World Cup last year, has been batting at No. 6.
He did well in India’s 3-0 sweep of the West Indies, scoring 92 runs in 3 matches, including two match-winning knocks – 18-ball 33 in the 2nd T20I, 19-ball 35 not out in the 3rd T20I as well. Dravid also admitted that Iyer plays the role of an opener for Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League but he plays in the middle-order and play the role of a finisher for Team India as well.
“I know he plays a different role (opener) for his IPL franchise but we’re very clear with what is the kind of role that we see him filling in our situation… Obviously, our top three isn’t really a spot, because these guys have established and have been performing very well in the top three,” Rahul Dravid said after India’s 3-0 win over the West Indies. “So we challenged him, we gave him the role to be able to bat in that position. Every time he’s improved, he’s gotten better. That’s really pleasing.”
Moreover, Venkatesh Iyer has also played the role of the 6th bowler, giving India an option in the bowling attack lead up to the T20 World Cup. In the final T20I, he filled in Deepak Chahar, who sustained a hamstring injury in the third over, and claimed 2/23 in his 2.1 overs. However, he has picked up 3 wickets, bowling close to 7 overs for India in T20Is as well.
“The role of a sixth bowler is something that you always be called upon to bowl. But in a situation like today where we, unfortunately, lost Deepak, you have to bowl a few critical overs. That is the role of a sixth bowler. If you are having a good game and the captain doesn’t need you then he doesn’t need you. If he needs you, he probably will need you at a critical time. And I think he’s done a really good job for us, really good series he has had,” he added.
Meanwhile, he has backed Ishan Kishan after his poor show. Dravid said: “Ishan has been picked on his potential, his performance. Yes, you cannot specify this many games. Sometimes it’s combination, sometimes it’s injuries. Never always give a player the same number of games, there cannot be a written number in stone whether it’s seven or six matches.”
“Whether it’s Ruturaj Gaikwad or Avesh Khan today. We are not judging them on one game. They’re here because they perform and deserve to be here. We like to give the players confidence in the group in and around the squad and that they are not going to be judged on one game. It’s always a tricky balance. But in the larger group, I’m not concerned about one-off series. In this format, it’s going to happen,” Rahul Dravid concluded.