New Zealand vs India 2020: Shreyas Iyer makes his mark with match-defining half-century
- The blistering knock under pressure speaks volumes of Iyer's maturity and temperament.
When India last played New Zealand, Martin Guptill had lasered the most important and accurate throw of his life to catch Mahendra Singh Dhoni millimeters short of his ground, quashing India's hopes of reaching the 2019 World Cup finals. When the zing bails lit up, the hopes of a billion Indian fans came crashing down.
Flash forward to the curtain-raiser of India's llong tour of New Zealand, the livewire Guptill plucked an absolute blinder to send the chase master, Virat Kohli, packing. At that point, India still need 83 off 53 deliveries to overcome a mammoth target of 203. However, much to India's delight, history didn't repeat itself this time around as Shreyas Iyer's blitzkrieg ensured the visitors emerged triumphant, leaving the sea of blue in the stands enthralled.
Iyer's whirlwind knock oozed his customary flamboyance. The dynamic right-hander pummeled Blair Tickner's shooter over mid-off to kick-start his fierce onslaught. Ish Sodhi hampered India's momentum by ending Shivam Dubey's cameo, but Iyer broke the shackles dispatching the leggie's half-tracker through point. Experienced campaigner Tim Southee wasn't spared either and bore the brunt of Iyer's nonchalant swivel-pull. His consecutive boundaries off rookie medium-pacer Hamish Bennett further skewed the equation in India's favor as the asking rate kept going down. Punishing Southee's charitable lengths for gigantic maximums, Iyer registered his 2nd T20I half-century and sealed New Zealand's fate. India won the match comfortably with an over to spare.
To walk out under pressure and deliver such a fine match-winning innings against a quality bowling opposition speaks volumes of Iyer's maturity and temperament. The shrewd tactical aptitude he displayed while executing India's response impressed the white-ball superstar, KL Rahul. "It was good to see that whoever was walking out was doing so with the intent to do that. And the execution was very impressive today. That is very heartening to see. And the way Shreyas finished it off, the way he celebrated very calmly after reaching his half-century, and he finished the game and then celebrated," Rahul quipped on Iyer's swashbuckling performance. "The responsibility of being an IPL captain, he has understood how to finish the games. He showed that responsibility in the last ODI too and here too. Those are great signs for us," the wicketkeeper-batsman highlighted.
"It feels good to finish the match and that too by hitting a six," Iyer expressed his jubiliation on Yuzvendra Chahal's light-hearted chat show.
"We needed one important partnership, the ground was small and in four overs 50 can also be made on this ground, so we decided one boundary an over and then bowler also comes under pressure," Iyer said.
"When you hit a six to finish a match, the feeling is special. My aim is to always finish games in whatever time I spend on the pitch. We have players like Virat Bhai, Rohit Bhai who finish games and staying with them helps you learn," the Delhi Capitals captain added.
With celebrated names heaping praises and runs flowing from his willow, one thing is certain - Shreyas Iyer is here to stay.Published 25 Jan 2020, 12:29 IST