Iyer made his ODI debut against South Africa in the 1st match in Paarl. He did not get a single over, even as Shardul Thakur conceded 72 in his 10 overs while Bhuvneshwar Kumar went for 64.
In a Q&A session on his YouTube channel, Chopra was asked regarding India’s decision to not try out Iyer’s medium pace in the opening one-dayer on Wednesday. The puzzled former opener responded:
“Why Venkatesh Iyer is not bowling is a million-dollar question. Both Rohit (Sharma) and (KL) Rahul have termed him an all-rounder, but neither bowled him. Rohit eventually gave him a bowl in a dead rubber (against New Zealand at home) and he did decently. Rahul did not give him a single over in the 1st ODI.”
Chopra also questioned the logic of playing Iyer as the No. 6 batter when he was not going to bowl. He stated:
“Iyer is being made to bat at No. 6, which seems too high for him. If you want to play him at No. 6 and not bowl him, then you better play a pure batter. And if you want to continue with Iyer, give him some overs. This strategy is inexplicable. Thakur conceded 72 runs in his 10 overs. There was a huge partnership and India could have tried him for a couple of overs.”
Bowling first, India had South Africa in trouble at 68 for 3. However, the visitors conceded the advantage as hundreds from Temba Bavuma and Rassie van der Dussen pushed the Proteas total to 296 for 4.
“Don’t think India will drop Thakur” - Aakash Chopra
Following his expensive spell in the 1st ODI, some voices have called for all-rounder Thakur to be axed from the XI for the 2nd match. However, Chopra advised against it and commented:
“Don’t think India will drop Thakur. He may have conceded 72 runs but he also scored fifty. He is a fighter. With the current team composition, in which Jaddu (Ravindra Jadeja) and Hardik (Pandya) are missing, you need some depth in batting. Thakur can bat ahead of Ashwin. In one-day cricket, Ashwin is not really an all-rounder.”
While Thakur was unimpressive with the ball, he scored his maiden ODI fifty, giving some respectability to the Indian total following a batting collapse.