In the past few years, Team India was struggling to find a dependable batsman at the No.4 position in ODIs. A lot of batsmen were but none of them performed well when the team needed them the most. However, in the last six months or so, Shreyas Iyer seems to have solved the puzzle. Since the World Cup 2019, he has proven his worth in the team with some consistent performances.
In nine ODI innings batting at No.4, Iyer has tallied 398 runs at an average of 56.85. This includes some dominating performances against New Zealand in the three ODIs, where he scored two half-centuries and a hundred. Although Shreyas loves the batting position, he admits the buzz surrounding the “No.4” position does get to him at times.
Describing the same, Iyer said, “I do feel comfortable now batting at No. 4. If you’re going to play at the highest level, it’s about what the team wants and the concerns that need to be addressed at that given moment in time. Flexibility, versatility, these are actual terms that one needs to apply right? Tomorrow, if I’m asked to bat at No. 5, that’s what you’ll find me doing. If I’m asked to walk out there and open, that’ll be my responsibility.”
While his ODI form has been exceptional ever since India’s exit from last year’s 50-over World Cup, Iyer has done a similar job in the T20Is as well. With the T20 World Cup lined up later this year, Shreyas gives the right balance in the shortest format of the game.
Iyer demonstrates the Mumbai school of batting, yet he never shies away from taking on the bowlers if the situation requires. That quality came to the fore during the opening T20I against New Zealand where his unbeaten 58 guided India home in a tense chase, followed by a knock of 44 in the second T20I.
Describing the same, Shreyas said, “ T20 is all about how you adapt to that given moment. See the scoreboard and just go with the flow. For example, that knock against New Zealand in Auckland. I remember, walking out, all that I was thinking was, ‘oh, how am I going to finish this game now?’ … ‘how should I go about it?’ Virat is seen as someone used to finishing off games. It was a great opportunity for me to finish off that game. That’s it putting yourself in the right frame of mind.”
While Iyer finally seems to have cracked the code of batting his ODIs and T20Is, he is not diverting away from working towards his dream of playing Test cricket for India somewhere down the road.
Expressing his desire to play Test cricket, Shreyas said, “I’ve grown up playing red-ball cricket. No cricketer, who has spent a good amount of time playing red-ball cricket will ever quit aspiring to play Test cricket. It may sound like a cliche, but playing Test cricket is a dream and I hope it comes true soon. Anybody who aspires to play the game at the highest level will always aspire to play Test cricket. Then it’s all about how capable you are.”