Former Team India fielding coach R Sridhar has narrated an interesting anecdote pertaining to Shreyas Iyer’s short-ball woes. Recalling an incident from India’s tour of South Africa in 2018, Sridhar stated that then-coach Ravi Shastri realized Shreyas would have to work hard against the rising ball after watching one of his dismissals.
Shreyas has been in the news lately owing to his constant struggles against the short ball. The 27-year-old has been troubled by bouncers across all three formats.
Sridhar, who was Team India’s fielding coach until the T20 World Cup in the UAE last year, opened up about the Mumbai cricketer’s troubles against the rising ball. Speaking to Cricket.com, he said:
“It is a very perceived weakness that we all have been seeing at the highest level, not just now. I remember an incident way back in 2018. Shreyas Iyer had made his (ODI) debut against Sri Lanka in India and, quickly after that, we went to South Africa for a multi-format tour."
Shreyas got an opportunity to play in the ODIs. He was up against pacer Morne Morkel in one of the matches. Continuing the story, Sridhar added:
“Straightaway, Morkel tested him out with a short ball and he fended it to third man. And Ravi Shastri was sitting beside me. He said, ‘Sri, ye bachcha ko bahut kaam karna padega' (Sri, this kid will have to work really hard). Ravi Shastri saw just one ball and said that this guy has to work hard against quick, short-pitched bowling.”
Sridhar, who has also been Punjab Kings' (PBKS) bowling coach, pointed out that Shreyas’ struggles are of greater concern because he does not score a lot of runs against the short ball.
Explaining how his situation was different from that of Indian captain Rohit Sharma, he elaborated:
“Shreyas is not someone who gets a lot of runs on the short ball. Many a times he has got out gloving the ball to the keeper or caught at midwicket or deep square leg. He’s not like Rohit Sharma, who plunders the bowlers on the short ball, but occasionally gets caught at fine leg.”
The elegant batter was not picked in the squad for the upcoming Asia Cup T20 tournament in the UAE. He has been named as one of the three standbys.
“The day he cracks that code, bowlers will have nowhere to bowl to him” - R Sridhar on Shreyas Iyer
Sridhar conceded that Shreyas would struggle to make an impact in international cricket unless he overcomes his weaknesses.
At the same time, he asserted that the right-handed batter would dominate bowlers if he manages to conquer his demons against the short ball. Sridhar concluded by saying:
“The day he cracks that code of short pitch bowling, bowlers will have nowhere to bowl to him. He is a very good player of all other stuff. It’s only a matter of time. It’s more of a mental thing than anything else.”
During the recent tour of the West Indies, Shreyas scored 161 runs in three ODIs at an average of 53.67. In the T20Is, he managed only 98 runs in four games, averaging 24.50.