India vs New Zealand 2017: Shreyas Iyer says he is 'proud to be led by role model Virat Kohli'
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Former Mumbai right-hander Shreyas Iyer has received a call-up to the Indian cricket team for their upcoming T20I series against New Zealand, and the 22-year-old said in an interview after the match that he '...(I) feel very much like part of the team.'
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India play New Zealand in a three-match ODI series, with a T20I series to commence on the 1st of November.
In the first of the ODIs played at Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium. India set the visitors a target of 281 runs to win, with nearly half of those runs coming off the bat of skipper Virat Kohli.
Kohli scored a valiant 121 runs at a strike rate of 96.8, but that was not enough to keep the visitors at bay, with the skipper finding little to no support in the scoring barring a 37-run knock by Dinesh Karthik.
New Zealand responded with two big knocks, with Tom Latham taking centre-stage with an unbeaten 103-run knock. Latham was ably supported by Ross Taylor, who scored a staggering 95 runs before falling to a catch off the bowling of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar.
Eventually, New Zealand finished off in style, losing only four wickets and overshooting the target with one over to spare.
Iyer, who has done well for India A in the past and is a constant feature in the Ranji Trophy, first hit the limelight in 2015 when the Delhi Daredevils paid ?2.6cr for him in the IPL; consistent performances then quickly put him on the radar of selectors, and good performances in first-class cricket have accelerated his ascent.
The 22-year-old player is confident he will be a fixture on the team, but avered in an interview with Cricketnext that he was not 'taking anything for granted.'
"The team has some quality batsmen at present, but I know my time will come and I just need to be patient and score runs consistently. I am not someone who believes in getting into other people’s space. I like doing my own job and the interactions that I have had with the members of the senior team has been more about trying to learn from them and not about my position in the pecking order,” he said.
Iyer also spoke about the yo-yo fitness test, which was recently reintroduced under the captaincy of Virat Kohli. A number of senior players have been forced to sit out from the side after having failed the test, Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina among them.
Stressing the importance of athleticism and fitness, Iyer said “I think fitness is of prime importance and try and work on my own fitness whenever I am not playing out in the middle. I feel that with the rigours of international cricket at present, staying fit is very important if you wish to succeed in all the three formats. It always helps when you have a role model like skipper Kohli to look upto."
Iyer has been impressive with the bat over the past season, and this is an excellent opportunity for the talented youngster to prove his mettle on Indian cricket's biggest world stage.
He has already done well in the shortest format of the game, so the T20I call-up should not be as daunting a prospect for Iyer. That said, it is an opportunity he will want to make the most of given we are on the cusp the 2019 World Cup, and selectors will be following the player's every performance to see if they can fill what has been seriously lacking in India's middle-order.
India and New Zealand will play the second of three ODIs at Pune's Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium and a third and final one in Kanpur before the T20I series kicks off at New Delhi's Ferozeshah Kotla stadium on the 1st of November; Shreyas Iyer will not be the only debutant there, with Hyderabad bowler Mohammad Siraj also receiving a call-up.