After spending several months on the sidelines due to a lower back injury, Shreyas Iyer made a remarkable return to the Indian cricket team just in time for the Asia Cup tournament. His injury had forced him to miss both the IPL 2023 season with the Kolkata Knight Riders and the tour of West Indies in July-August. However, destiny smiled upon him as he was confirmed as part of the playing XI for the much-anticipated clash against Pakistan at the Pallekele International Stadium.
Before the game in Kandy, Iyer opened up about his selection, which marked his debut appearance in an international match against Pakistan. Earlier in the year, his lower back stress had led to surgery during the IPL season, followed by a rehabilitation stint at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru.
In late August, Iyer underwent match simulations and participated in practice matches to prove his fitness as a batter and a fielder, ultimately earning his spot in the Indian team for the Asia Cup. Speaking to Star Sports after India finalized their playing XI for the Pakistan match, the talented batter expressed his surprise at being selected, given his slow and steady recovery.
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Ahead of the game, Shreyas Iyer said, “I never imagined I would be playing the Asia Cup because the way I was recovering as it was going slow and steady and then suddenly I was able to pass the test and was pain-free a week before the selection. I was happy and couldn’t digest the fact that I was selected.”
This marked Iyer’s first appearance in an international game against Pakistan, as he had missed previous opportunities during the three T20I meetings across the Asia Cup and T20 World Cup last year. The No. 4 batter admitted to feeling nervous and excited about the high-stakes match against the current number-one team in the world.
Shreyas Iyer 🗣
“I never imagined I’ll be playing Asia Cup. The recovery was slow and steady. I passed the fitness test one week before selection, and I was really happy with that. I was nervous last night, couldn’t sleep.”
I hope he plays a smashing knock today! #PAKvIND
— Prasenjit Dey (@CricPrasen) September 2, 2023
Confessed the same, Shreyas Iyer said, “I was nervous last night, couldn’t sleep. I am super excited to play this match against Pakistan. It’s a phenomenal feeling to be honest.”
The clash between India and Pakistan holds a unique significance, especially for the younger players, as political tensions have prevented bilateral series between the two neighboring nations since 2012. Iyer shared the special message from captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid for the team ahead of the Pakistan showdown, emphasizing the privilege of being a part of the squad under their leadership.
Shreyas Iyer said, “We are privileged to be a part of this team and journey with Rahul sir (Dravid) as the coach and under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy. The spirits are high in the dressing room, and we are looking forward to this game.”
As Shreyas Iyer stepped onto the field, he carried not only his cricketing skills but also the weight of anticipation and excitement for this iconic clash between two cricketing giants.