Shreyas Iyer on Sunday scored a maiden T20I fifty to push India to a challenging total which proved decisive as they went on to beat Bangladesh in the third and final match of series. With that win India clinched the series 2-1.
Iyer struck 33-ball 62 with three fours and five sixes in Nagpur on Sunday. The knock has also strengthened Iyer’s position as the front-runner for the much-talked about No. 4 spot something which has been giving Indian team management sleepless night for over a year in limited-overs cricket.
Iyer is the latest to have been tried and he has made quite an impression so far. On the West Indies tour, he struck two fifties while batting at No. 5 with Rishabh Pant coming ahead of him. However, two handy innings against Bangladesh in the Delhi and Rajkot T20Is before his blistering half-century could result in promotion.
“For me personally, they (team management) have given me a heads up that ‘You’ll be there at No.4. So just back yourself and believe in yourself’,” Iyer revealed at the post-match media interaction. “It has been a really important last few series for me to set the benchmark at the No. 4 position, which all of us are competing for at the moment.”
He added, “Even if Kohli and Rohit get out, we need someone to finish the game and bat till the end.’ That is a No. 4’s role. That’s what I was trying to replicate today and it worked out really well for me.”
Provided Iyer continues to log impressive scores, he could well on be the flight to Australia come October 2020 when Australia will host the ICC T20 World Cup. He’s among several claimants who are being given a chance ahead of the next year’s marquee event as India fine-tune their preparations and finalise on a strong squad.
The 24-year-old admits there’s stiff competition for every spot. “Yes, obviously there is lot of competition going in the team. I personally feel that I compete with myself. I don’t want myself to be judged with anyone or when you say that this position is empty in the team. I am really open-minded and can bat at any number. So I just like to back myself in tough situations and today’s innings showed that I can bat under pressure as well,” he said.
Explaining his mindset, the middle-order batsman said, “The support staff have given me the freedom — not just me but all the batsmen — that you need to have that intent when you go in there. And you should feel very positive when you’re batting. If the ball pitches in my area, I am not going to control myself. I’ll bat according to my instincts.”