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Rahul Dravid sir has asked me to trust my game: Shreyas Iyer

After his maiden T20 call-up, the Mumbai batsman looks forward to joining Team India

Shreyas Iyer, a stylish batsman, has been making his presence felt with consistent performances across formats in the domestic circuit as well as with some impressive knocks for India ‘A’. The lad from Mumbai was recently also appointed captain for India ‘A’ against New Zealand ‘A’ and also for Board President’s XI.

The day before the third round of the Ranji Trophy 2017-18, Iyer received a call-up to India’s T20I squad against New Zealand. While reflecting on the remarkable moment, Mumbai’s top-order batsman told bcci.tv, “I actually came to know (first heard) when I was walking back to the dressing room (at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy, BKC) after practice. Few of the journalists were congratulating me... wishing me. I have been receiving the news previously as well so I wasn’t that excited. I just wanted to first make sure that I have received (the correct news) and it is official, so I was waiting for it and after that I was really happy.”

The youngster had the opportunity to be a part of the Indian dressing room, albeit briefly when he was named in the Test squad for the fourth Test against Australia in March 2017. “Anyone who starts playing for any club, his dream is to play for the country and getting there (dressing room) was like a dream come true. I have worked hard for it.

“It was a really nice experience to share the dressing room with all the legends. The day before the match, I had a chat with Virat (Kohli). We discussed about their bowlers – they (Australia) had a really good bowling line-up. I had also played against them in one practice game. It was just like a (another) new day. Since I have been playing in the IPL against many good players and in front of so many people, it wasn’t a nervous situation for me, but to be part of Team India was a great feeling,” he said while looking back on the occasion.

Although he wasn’t part of the playing XI, Iyer got an opportunity to showcase his fielding in Dharamsala. “It was really special getting a run out. My coach told me, ‘Go on the field and get us a wicket. It could be a catch or a run out.’ So, getting a run out was a really special thing; to do something to contribute little bit for the team as well. I really enjoyed that moment,” he recalled. 

Asked whether playing against national sides in practice games, representing India ‘A’ has been different, given that he has played against and with international players in the Indian Premier League as well, Iyer said, “It’s not at all different because we have also travelled to South Africa and played in those conditions, so it is kind of a similar feeling to play against a national side which comes from outside. It is challenging for them because when they come play away from their country, we are on the top, we have an advantage (but) we also have the pressure to perform for the team and see to it that we don’t lose a single game. So, it was a great experience. Luckily, I captained in two of the games and did well. It gave me more maturity and responsibility in all three departments – fielding, appointing bowlers (strategising) and batting as well.”

Iyer’s consistency and ability to adapt has also been impressive. Discussing the work put in to develop the crucial qualities, the batsman said, “After a bad patch or lean patch, you would say after last year’s IPL, I realised that I shouldn’t take advise from everybody or rather everybody who talks about my batting. I shouldn’t listen to everyone. I need to trust myself, trust my batting. I need to back myself. Whenever I go on to the field, I decide that I am going to back my instincts and then whatever the result is, I am going to accept it. What I learn from the ground is really important and that has really helped me throughout the season. I am just following my processes.”

The youngster continues to work on himself during breaks. “Whenever I get time, I work with Pravin (Amre) sir regarding technique and skills. And Rahul (Dravid) sir has been a great support for me in the India ‘A’ side. He is more into the mental aspect. He has asked me trust my game because I have been really playing well lately; and he believes that I have a good capacity to play at the higher level,” he mentioned.

Iyer got off to a good start to the 2017-18 season with crucial knocks on the India ‘A’ tour to South Africa. “It (the performance) has boosted my confidence. Winning the finals against South Africa ‘A’ (in the Tri-series where he scored 140 not out) and playing a match winning knock. I didn’t score that well in the first few games, but I was really batting well. I knew that once I get a good start, I have to convert it big and as long as I stay at the wicket, my team is going to win. That was my thought process and I stuck to it and it resulted in a good win and a good series as well.”

On back of performances and diligent efforts, Iyer now hopes to wear the blue jersey and a take step forward towards playing at the next level. “It is again going to be a learning process. I am just going to stick to my process and no matter what comes my way, I am going to accept it and just enjoy the moment. (I) Just (want to) go there, trust myself and enjoy whatever comes my way,” he concluded.  


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‘I trained every day to play for India’

Ashish Nehra, India’s ageless wonder decides to retire after the first T20I against New Zealand

When Ashish Nehra made his international debut back in 1998, Kuldeep Yadav, India’s mystery spinner was just four. The lanky bowler burst onto the scene with a not-so-smooth action, but the one that sent the ball at high pace. When he traveled outside, his pace combined with swing, making life difficult for the batsmen. Eighteen years since he debuted, Nehra underwent over 10 surgeries owing to that action but not once did he compromise on pace.

Once considered a platform for the youngsters, Nehra, 38, has adjusted seamlessly to the rigors of T20. The way he bowls, he can continue to bowl till he is 40. However, the performance of India’s current pace battery has delighted him and he wants those considerably younger than him to enjoy a longer run. 

Ahead of the third and final T20 against Australia in Hyderabad, Nehra announced his retirement plan. India’s ageless wonder will give those worn out shoes the much-required rest after the first T20I against New Zealand in Delhi. In front of his family and fans, Nehra will don the blues at the Feroz Shah Kotla, his home ground. “It is my own decision, I have spoken to the team management as well as the chairman of the selection committee. I’m really lucky, it can’t get bigger than getting to retire in front of your home crowd,” said Nehra.

While memories of his magical spell of 6/23 against England in the 2003 World Cup are still fresh, he played a crucial role in India’s World Cup win 2011. His economical spell of 2/33 against Pakistan in the semi-final helped India make the final which he unfortunately missed owing to a fractured finger. 

Highlighting his thought process behind the big call, he said, “I have given it (retirement) a good thought, especially with the way Bhuvi (Bhuvneshwar Kumar) and (Jasprit) Bumrah have been bowling over the past six months,” he said. “When I came into this series, I had come prepared to bowl. The day I linked up with this squad, I spoke to the captain and coach about my plan, because whenever Ashish Nehra is in the side he plays in the XI; he doesn’t sit out, we’ve seen that in the T20s over the last couple of years.

“I feel Bhuvneshwar is ready, the way he has been bowling, and there is no big event in the next five or six months, like a World Cup or anything. It’s very important to me what people in the dressing room think. Now they say you can easily play for one more year. I’ve been a believer of the fact that it’s always good to retire when people ask why and not why not.”

He made is clear that 1st November will be last day as a professional cricketer. “I put my point of view to them. This is how I feel and this is my thought. Obviously, I could still play. But the first thing Virat said was you can still play, then second thing he said you could play IPL. It's good that people still think I can play. It was a tough decision for me, but they all respect my decision.

“Every individual has certain strengths and certain weaknesses. I was always mentally strong. I am that sort of a person who trains day in and day out to play for India. Like I said, I could have played easily one more year of international cricket. People said you are retiring in November, you can still play the next IPL which is just five months away. But it's my decision that if I leave, I will leave completely, I won't even play the IPL."

Moulin Parikh
Moulin Parikh

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