Shreyas Iyer proves once again that he belongs in the Indian middle-order

He was playing an international ODI after 18 months. And yet he looked like he had never left the team. He played confidently, smashed attractive boundaries and gave the team the momentum it needed after a tricky situation. Eventually, Shreyas Iyer was dismissed for a sparkling 71 off 68 balls with 5 fours and a six that helped India clinch the 2nd ODI against the West Indies at Port of Spain.

Shreyas now has 3 fifties in 6 innings for India at an average of 46.83. He has shown his talent in every opportunity he has got. And yet, for some reason, the Indian team management doesn’t seem to have the confidence in him. Iyer was dropped from the side after being given just 5 innings to prove his mettle, where he scored two fifties. Had he been persisted with and given a longer rope in the Indian middle-order he could have been a vital cog for the team in the World Cup 2019 in England.

For a team that has been struggling with its middle-order for a while, Iyer would have been the perfect fit. He’s young, he has a solid technique and he can play the long innings. But it looks like captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri wanted someone more dynamic and aggressive. That plan didn’t work out and after trying and failing with several options in the middle-order, Iyer has been brought back.

Even now, Iyer isn’t being given the No.4 spot – an ideal position for the kind of batsman he is. Instead, he is being made to bat at No.5 and wicket-keeper batsman Rishabh Pant is being tried out at No.4 in the hope that his aggressive batting will help the team be more dominating in the middle-overs. The plan hasn’t worked so far as in the 2nd ODI against the West Indies, Pant was bowled for 25 after attempting an ugly hoick. It was Iyer’s composed 71 which helped Kohli (120) set the innings back on track. Towards the end, Iyer also showed glimpses of his attacking batting as well as he collected a few quick runs and smashed a monstrous six off Kemar Roach.

Iyer, though, isn’t thinking about which position to bat. He is simply relishing the opportunity to play and wants to make the most of it, irrespective of the batting position he gets.

“Personally, I am not thinking about batting only at No.4. I want to be someone who is very flexible batting at any number or if you go into any situation you should be able to grab that opportunity and make the best use of it,” Iyer was quoted as saying earlier this month to the press.

Shreyas Iyer has thus proved again that he belongs to international cricket and in the Indian ODI team. One hopes that he gets a longer run this time and is not discarded after a few good performances.  He is 24 years of age, has a mature head on his shoulders, plays stably with a solid technique and also has the game to up the ante when needed. This is the kind of batsman worth investing in for the future. A long run in the middle-order, especially the No.4 position, would be perfect for Iyer and might well make him emerge as India’s next big batting star.

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