Shreyas Iyer made his Test debut against New Zealand in Kanpur. Coming into the middle when India were 106-3, the right-hander showed intent up front and kept the scoreboard ticking with regular boundaries. He timed his innings splendidly, taking occasional calculated risks to end the first day with an unbeaten 75 (136).
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo after the day's play, Wasim Jaffer said in the debutant's praise:
"He plays spin really well and I think he has a pretty similar attitude [to] Rohit Sharma which I have seen coming from Mumbai. Whenever he's in doubt he takes the aggressive approach and that's what suits him, even in any other format. He's not afraid to play his shots, to back his game and that's his strength. I am happy that he played in the same manner [despite] coming at 106-3. His first scoring shot was going over the head of mid-on. That shows that he's confident [about] his skills and that's very nice to see."
Wasim Jaffer added that while it might not seem so, Shreyas Iyer has reached this stage by putting in the hard yards in domestic red-ball cricket. Jaffer remarked that his spunky approach and ability to change games within sessions is exactly what India needs at no.5. The former opener asserted:
"Shreyas Iyer has come through [putting] the hard yards. He's got lots and lots of runs in Ranji Trophy and first-class level. So he's not short of experience... Even though he's playing white-ball cricket for India, he's come through the grinds just like Ajinkya Rahane and Pujara... He plays attacking cricket and that's something you need at No. 5 and 6. You've got Rishabh Pant coming in and those players, if they bat a session or two, they can change games. Really happy for him, he's grabbed his opportunity with both hands."
Shreyas Iyer's first-class record indeed has a major role to play in his maiden call-up to the Test squad. In fact, it was the 26-year-old's red-ball exploits that got him his maiden gigs at the IPL and then international cricket.
In 54 first-class matches, Shreyas Iyer has over 4500 runs at an average of 52.18 and a stunning strike rate of 81.54. The numbers are quite similar to Rohit Sharma's as well - 54.64 and 61.17 respectively - albeit from 104 games.
"They'll attack early tomorrow" - Daniel Vettori on New Zealand's plans against Shreyas Iyer and Ravindra Jadeja
India went to stumps with a substantial 258-4 on board, with Ravindra Jadeja standing strong at 50 (100) alongside Shreyas Iyer.
Former New Zealand spinner Daniel Vettori, speaking during the same interaction, explained that the Kiwis will still look to keep India down to 350. He said their best hope is to attack early on Day 2 and try and break this partnership.
"They started the day thinking 'If we can dismiss them around 350 then we'll have a chance of competing in the game' and I think that still stands. They'll attack early tomorrow, they still have a newish ball - give it to Jamieson and Southee and see what they can do so I think that's the mentality they have to have. If it starts eking past that 400 mark, that's when India is just at their sweet spot where they can put on so much pressure with those three spinners."
India still have Ravichandran Ashwin and Wriddhiman Saha to come in the batting order, apart from the two pacers. They'll be disappointed if they don't score above 350, which makes for a mouth-watering new-ball tussle on Friday.
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