Shreyas Iyer: A skipper in the making for Team India?
- Analyzing Shreyas Iyer's journey so far and why he could possibly be a future captain for the Indian cricket team.
In the wake of India’s World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand, the team management seems to have zeroed in on the man they consider suitable for the much talked about number 4 slot in the middle order.
Initially India went in with Rishabh Pant at number 4, but his unsuccessful stint coupled with Shreyas Iyer’s display of maturity at number 5 made it an obvious decision to make the final shuffle in the batting order.
Post India’s West Indies tour in 2019, the Mumbai batsman has been the go-to man for skipper Virat Kohli at the number 4 slot. He has reposed Kohli’s faith with a string of consistent scores, displaying solid temperament and maturity that are ideal for any middle-order batsman.
Iyer’s cricketing journey: A dream Ranji debut followed by a huge IPL contract
Iyer comes from Mumbai - a city known for producing several batsmen of world-class abilities like Sunil Gavaskar, Dilip Vengsarkar, Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma. Iyer started off his career with the under-19 team that finished 5th in the 2014 World Cup, and was subsequently selected in Mumbai’s Ranji side.
Also see - Ranji most runs
He had a dream debut season for Mumbai, wherein he scored 809 runs at an average of over 50 and finishing as the team's highest run-scorer during the 2014-15 season. He bettered his tally in the subsequent season, amassing 1321 runs at an average of over 73 with 4 hundreds.
During the 2015 IPL auctions, Iyer fetched a bid of INR 2.6 crore from a starting base price of INR 10 lakh by the Delhi franchise. That earned him the tag of the highest paid uncapped Indian player of the season.
The right-hander didn’t disappoint his team owners either as he scored a total of 439 runs for the team during the tournament, winning the 'emerging player' award for the season. Iyer has grown by leaps and bounds in the IPL over the years, and his numbers suggest his domination with the bat.
He scored 338 runs during the 2017 season, while amassing 411 and 463 runs in the 2018 and 2019 seasons respectively - with only the 2016 edition being a minor blip in his IPL career.
Due to his consistent performances in domestic cricket, Iyer was rewarded with an India berth in the 2017-18 ODI series against Sri Lanka, where he scored 2 half-centuries and accumulated 162 runs. In 12 ODIs for India, the right-handed batsman has scored at a healthy average of 47.6 with a strike-rate in excess of 100.
Evidence of leadership traits
In 2018, Iyer was handed over the captaincy of the Delhi Capitals team after regular skipper Gautam Gambhir opted to step down mid-way through the tournament owing to his lacklustre performance coinciding with the team’s miserable display. Though many were taken aback by the decision, Iyer didn’t disappoint the team management.
He showed an immense sense of maturity and calm in marshaling his side, taking them to a decent finish. The 2019 edition of IPL turned out to be the best for Delhi Captials as the team, led by Iyer, managed to finish in the top 4 after ages.
Though it is still early days for him in international cricket, the Mumbai-born cricketer has already shown a sense of understanding of the game. He is one of the rare breed of young cricketers coming in, along with Shubman Gill, who seem to have the ability to read the situation of the game expertly and adapt their playing style accordingly.
Iyer has grabbed his opportunity at number 4 too, after his Delhi Capitals teammate Rishabh Pant failed to make the most of it. Iyer’s strong outing at number 5 and his ability to finish the game opened up the slot for him, and he hasn't looked back.
As all good players do, Iyer has made the number 4 slot his own courtesy the consistent 50-plus scores at the much-talked about position.
Coming of age
Iyer seems to be a calm-headed cricketer who knows his role exactly in the team and plays according to the situation, a rare commodity in the play-your-natural-game era. He has the game to score quick runs and at the same time, rotate the strike and play patiently if the need arises. Also, his stint as the skipper of the Delhi Capitals seems to be a good sign of the leader in him.
Though he still has a long way to go in international cricket, the Mumbai batsman will surely look to keep making use of the chances thrown at him and grow into a mature, captaincy potential player for India.