India rode on another superlative batting performance from Shreyas Iyer, who seems to be making a strong case for more regular appearances in the XI in T20Is. Iyer ended the series against Sri Lanka with 3 successive fifties and he was not dismissed by the visiting bowlers even once in the series.
The Mumbai batter got only one opportunity in the T20I series against the West Indies as India opted to go with Virat Kohli and Suryakumar Yadav in the middle-order.
Iyer kept the scoreboard moving at a brisk pace from the word go. Despite losing partners frequently, Iyer never took the foot off the pedal, punishing the Sri Lanka bowlers every time they missed the mark even by a whisker.
With regulars such as KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Rishabh Pant and Suryakumar Yadav absent, two batters grabbed their chance in the T20I series: Ishan Kishan and Shreyas Iyer.
Although the series turned out to be a roaring success for him personally, Iyer revealed he had had to fight through difficult moments, particularly in the first match, in Lucknow.
Shreyas: Waits for his turn
The Kolkata Knight Riders skipper had a topsy-turvy ride last year after undergoing surgery that kept him out of action for a significant amount of time. He has flourished since his return and his 200-plus runs against Sri Lanka is a testament to his batting prowess. With his run-scoring spree, Shreyas has also surpassed former skipper Virat Kohli on the list of most runs by an Indian batter in a three-T20I bilateral series. Kohli previously held the record with 199 runs against Australia back in the 2015/16 series. Kohli had also hit three half-centuries at a strike rate of 160.48.
Shreyas Iyer seems to have hit the purple patch with the bat and it’s a great sign for the Indian team, given the fact that the next T20 World Cup is just months away. Shreyas on Sunday notched up his third consecutive half-century in the shortest format to help India whitewash Sri Lanka in the three-match series.
Under Rohit Sharma, India began the post-T20 World Cup journey with a 3-0 sweep of New Zealand at home last year. They then hammered West Indies 3-0 earlier this month to go to the top spot of ICC T20I Rankings. And with the sweep of Sri Lanka, India are set to retain the numero uno position.
Shreyas: Upping his game
Over the past couple of seasons, Shreyas has had to develop his off-side game; his go-to hitting areas were midwicket and square leg – they still are – but he’s worked on his range on the other side of the ground as bowlers would go wider to deny him the slog. For someone who becomes a runaway train when he gets going, Shreyas does have the tendency to suddenly stop in his tracks.
His plan was simple; he’d move across, stand outside off stump and slog over long-on or whip it square. When the Sri Lankans bowled wider, he’d stretch to slice them over backward point.
Shreyas was hoping he would be used as the eighth bowling option later, but India were happy to show off seven.
However, such knocks – at the crucial No 3 position too – will increase the selection headaches for the management when it comes to narrowing down on the final T20 World Cup squad.
More importantly, the team has sorely missed a formidable middle-order in recent times. In fact their failure to go all the way in England in 2019 was primarily down to their over-dependence on Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli.
Iyer’s recent knocks indicate that he’s ready to be the protagonist of the side.