India’s win over the West Indies in the second ODI on Sunday saw skipper Virat Kohli register his 42nd ton in the format. but it was young Shreyas Iyer who took all the plaudits following the side’s 59-run victory.
The 24-year-old displayed impressive maturity and some excellent strokeplay in his 71-run knock at the crease after walking out to bat at No5 for India. It was Iyer’s third ODI half-century in six innings and was another timely reminder of the right-hander’s batting prowess.
More than the impressive numbers behind his innings at Port of Spain, it was the manner in which Iyer constructed it that proved once again why he can be the solution to India’s longstanding middle-order woes.
While Rishabh Pant once again failed to seize his chance in the limited-overs format with a rash dismissal in the second ODI, Iyer showed the value of an excellent temperament with his stay at the crease.
The Delhi Capitals skipper walked into bat after Pant had thrown his wicket away in poor fashion and quickly assessed the conditions to perfection before registering his third ODI half-century.
The confidence and authority exuded by him during his 125-run stand with skipper Virat Kohli was what stood out the most about Iyer’s approach during his 68-ball stay at the crease.
Shreyas Iyer looked comfortable & should definitely be persisted with. Has scored heavily in domestic cricket & India A level. Has done well for India too.— Sarang Bhalerao (@bhaleraosarang) August 11, 2019
Saw his double ton v Aus in 2017 (FC game)
Still feel he should’ve been part of the WC squad. #WIvIND
While India have been crying for some stability in their middle-order for a long period now, Iyer’s exclusion from the ODI squad in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup was baffling given the fact he had performed decently in his limited chances previously.
An average of 42 and a strike-rate of more than 96 in six ODI appearances are good numbers for any middle-order batsman around the world. Yet, Iyer was quickly discarded by the team management for the likes of Ambati Rayudu and subsequently Vijay Shankar after the tour of South Africa at the start of 2018.
India’s struggles in the middle-order, and particularly at No4, have shown no signs of ending ever since and that soft underbelly was exposed cruelly in the World Cup semi-final loss to New Zealand.
Iyer has for long been a consistent performer at the domestic level with averages of 52.18 and 43.15 in first-class and List A cricket respectively while he has put together a string of impressive displays for India A as well.
Despite not having the extravagant shots in his locker, Iyer still manages to strike at nearly run-a-ball and that quality is akin to gold dust for a middle-order batsman in ODI cricket.
“Brilliant,” Virat Kohli replied when asked to give his verdict on Iyer’s display on Sunday.
“Stepping in, not having played many games in the past, but I think he’s a very confident guy, he’s got the right attitude, and his body language was brilliant.
“Really good start for him, hopefully he gets another one.”
It is now time for Kohli and the Indian team management to learn from their past mistakes and give Iyer a longer rope to establish his claim in the middle-order. More inconsistent performers than Iyer have been given an extended run in the squad in the past to no success with the likes of Manish Pandey and KL Rahul being some of the biggest culprits.
Yet, Iyer has been overlooked time and time again and was the only member of the India squad who did not get a single game in the preceding T20 series against West Indies.
“I want to stay in the team for a while, the consistency is always important, I want to play well and contribute to the team,” the right-hander stated after his second ODI display.
The youngster will certainly feature in the final match of the ODI series that takes place on Wednesday but it is what India’s selectors and team management do with him after the tour that will be of utmost importance.
The next four-year cycle for the 2023 World Cup has begun and India must now give Iyer his due.
Virat Kohli‘s 42nd one-day international century steered India to a 59-run victory (D/L) in the second ODI against West Indies in Port of Spain, Trinidad on Sunday.
The India skipper made 120 from 125 balls, hit 14 fours and a six and his 125-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Shreyas Iyer (71) formed the backbone of the tourists’ 279 for 7 from their 50 overs.
The home side were then set a rain-affected target of 270 in 46 overs.
Chirs Gayle could only manage 11 in his 300th one-day game, but West Indies were very much in contention at 179 for four in the 35th over.
However, four wickets fell for three runs in two overs and the match was effectively over.
West Indies were bowled out for 210, with Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking 4-31.
India will take a 1-0 lead in the 3-match series into the final ODI at the same venue on Wednesday.
Up-and-coming India batsman Shubman Gill continued his tremendous form as he smashed a quick double century for India ‘A’ against West Indies ‘A’ in the third unofficial Test at the Brian Lara Stadium in Trinidad.
Gill smashed an unbeaten 204 off just 248 balls with 19 fours and two sixes in the second innings to help the Indians declare at 365-4 and set a target of 373 on day three of the match.
Gill walked in at 14-2 after the visitors had gained a slender seven-run first-innings lead and joined hands with captain Hanuma Vihari (118*) to put the Indians ahead.
The 19-year-old thus became the youngest Indian ever to score a first-class double century outside India.
Gill’s form raises more questions about the thinking process behind his exclusion from the senior team currently touring the Windies. The 19-year-old was not picked for any of the three formats while out-of-form players and those who have already had many chances were selected.
Gill’s last four scores before his double ton were 40 (first class) and 69, 77, 62 (List A). He has been scoring heavily in the domestic circuit and with India ‘A’. He earned his India ODI call-up earlier in the year but failed twice in seaming conditions in New Zealand.
Gill’s exclusion surprised many, including former captain Sourav Ganguly. Gill is considered one of the finest batting talents to emerge from India in a long time with many expecting him to cement a top-order slot in all three formats this year.