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.