When Shreyas Iyer first arrived in the cricketing stage, he was compared with Virender Sehwag. That was not a justified comparision to make, some felt. However, the one thing that made people compare him with Sehwag was the way he batted. He was carefree, yet his shots oozed maturity. He was brutal, yet pleasing for eyes.
Soon after his India U19 stint, he was put in the IPL auctions with a base price of Rs 10 Lakh. Next thing he got to know was that he was picked up by Delhi Daredevils for a whopping Rs 2.6 crore. Now, Iyer did not have to deal just with the hype but with a huge IPL price as well. He lived up to both, scoring 439 runs in 14 games in the 2015 season. He was chosen as the Emerging Player of The Year award that year as well.
Before the next season, an offer was made from Mumbai Indians to Delhi Daredevils to buy Iyer in place of 3 Mumbai Indians players. DD rejected the offer. Iyer failed massively in 2016, scoring just 30 runs in 6 games he got that season. He was coming into the IPL season with 1321 runs in 11 games, with the highest score of 200 and an average of 73.38.
But unfortunately for him, he failed in a tournament where the eyeballs are more. The selectors, however, kept faith in him.
That knock against the Australians
In the Ranji season 2015-16, Iyer was just 95 runs short of scoring the most runs (1321) in a Ranji season. The record is intact with VVS Laxman. Like Laxman, Iyer loves staying long on the pitch and like Laxman, he also loves playing against the Australians.
Iyer has not played a Test yet, however, he showed why he is an ideal choice if a vacancy comes up in the Indian team any time soon. The one knock which helped him earn the India call was when he smashed an unbeaten 202 against the Kangaroos in a warm-up game early this year. It was an instant way to make headlines and more importantly make the selectors’ heads turn to him. When Kohli injured his shoulder in 3rd Test of Border-Gavaskar trophy, Iyer was called in as a replacement. He did not play the last Test but he got those whites, the Indian whites.
When Iyer got the call to join the team in Dharamsala for the last Test, his father could not believe, how calmly his son had informed him about the news. His father told Sportswallah, “He called up. I think there was another tournament. He said I am going to Dharamsala. I asked why he was going to Dharamsala, your match is not there. He said I received a call to join the Indian team. For a moment, I did not know what happened.”
Iyer made his T20I debut in the same year, on November 1, 2017, at Feroz Shah Kotla, in the same match where Ashish Nehra was going to bowl 4 final overs of his career. A week prior to his debut, he had smashed Ravichandran Ashwin in a Ranji Trophy game between Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.
Iyer, playing on 84, had to deal with Ashwin who was attacking him with a negative line and length from around the wickets. The plot was to pitch the ball in the middle-stump line and turn it into him. The ploy was to tempt him to hit and bring his own downfall – alas, it did not work out for Tamil Nadu.
Iyer kept on taking singles and doubles and on occasions, left the ball. He was cautious. He could have been rash, as TN captain Abhinav Mukund had expected. He reached his century, whacking Ashwin for a four in long-on region. He had enough of it and he wanted to prove a point or two to India’s finest bowler in Tests at the moment. The next ball was cut for four. This continued and Ashwin, after being hit for 2 sixes, went back to bowling over the stumps. It did not matter what score he was playing, Iyer had already unlocked an achievement.
He failed in his first three international outing with scores of 23 and 6 in first two T20Is against New Zealand and 9 in the first ODI against Sri Lanka. However, it was just a matter of time he came good and against Sri Lanka, in the 2nd ODI, he showed why he is special as scored 88 off just 70 balls. If those 88 runs showcase his talent, the missing 12 runs, which could have given him his maiden ODI century, must tell him about his inexperience as an international batsman.
The other reason why Iyer is special is the fact that he is not simply about the runs he scores. Like Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni, he is a sight to watch, when he is playing. You can see his courage reflecting on his face. Just watch him bat in the next game and you will relate to what I just mentioned.