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Shreyas Iyer: India’s chance to put the middle-order debacle to bed in limited-overs cricket

Vishnu Ramesh

Does Shreyas Iyer hold the key to solve India's middle-order mystery? A leader in the making?
Does Shreyas Iyer hold the key to solve India's middle-order mystery?

Shreyas Iyer, the top-order batsman from Mumbai, has recently been selected for the upcoming series against the West Indies. This was a consequence of a string of consistent performances with the bat in the recently concluded India A tour, as well as his exquisite leadership qualities. Iyer, who has fearlessly led the Delhi Capitals in IPL 2019, has been a topic of conversation with the selectors and now has a good opportunity to stake his claim in the Indian squad.

Part of India’s unsuccessful U-19 World Cup in 2014 under the captaincy of Vijay Zol, Iyer contributed 161 runs in the 3 matches played in the top-order, showing early signs of controlled batting that could be a key indicator to a start of a long-lasting career.

Iyer made his List-A career debut with Mumbai in the Vijay-Hazare trophy, scoring a brisk 273 runs with a healthy average of 54.60. With a close look into his batting technique, style and consistency in the domestic leagues and the U-19 circuits, Iyer was signed up by Delhi Daredevils (now Delhi Capitals) in 2015 for a whopping 2.6 crores, making him the most paid uncapped player in the tournament that year.

After being retained in 2018, Iyer was appointed captain as a replacement for a misfiring Gautam Gambhir, making him the fourth-youngest captain to lead a side in the IPL. Iyer had a memorable captaincy debut as scored a brilliant 93 off just 40 deliveries.

A leader in the making?

Already having been called up as a cover for Virat Kohli in the Australia’s 2017 tour and brought in for the T20I and the ODI squad against New Zealand, Sri Lanka and South Africa in 2017 and 2018 respectively, Iyer can become a seasoned player as the preparation for the next World Cup begins with this series.

Iyer’s relentless attitude and his experience in working with a young squad at Delhi Capitals present India with a worthy chance to potentially look for a permanent solution to the misfiring No. 4 spot in limited-overs cricket. A spot where a composed player could’ve made the difference during India’s match in the semi-finals of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 against New Zealand.

With a batting mentality quite similar to the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Iyer’s capacity to soak up pressure in the middle overs whilst continuing to keep the scoreboard ticking and his power-hitting skills make him an excellent addition to the Indian squad for the upcoming tour. Iyer’s main responsibility would be to plug the wickets on one end so that pinch-hitters such as Hardik Pandya and Rishabh Pant can exploit with an attacking mindset from the get-go in the closing stages of the match.

Given India’s almost impossible task of squeezing in a new player with the existing pool of talent and a long waiting line, Iyer’s opportunities may not come knocking twice and must be capitalized upon. With the likes of Vijay Shankar and Rishabh Pant still eyeing the No. 4 spot, Iyer will have the mighty task of convincing the selectors that he is the long-term choice post the Cricket World Cup, starting with this series against the West Indies.

Iyer can, furthermore, be groomed to become a leader as Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma will eventually bow out of the game around the same time. Provided that Iyer performs with the bat consistently and has showcased exceptional skill in handling tough situations, India could potentially look to grooming a future captain and a dependable batsman over the years. 

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