Change in track that bore fruit

Change in track that bore fruit

Shreyas Iyer shoots himself into prominence with stellar shows

Change in track that bore fruit

Shreyas Iyer was torn between his love for football and passion for cricket before his father’s timely advice convinced him completely to switch to the game of bat and ball. And by the early signs of it, Indian cricket may have unearthed a potential batting great.

“You can’t sail in two boats at the same time,” his father Santosh told him when the junior Iyer wanted to enrol himself into his school football team (Don Bosco).

“He was a good football player but at the same time he had his cricket training going on as well. I didn’t impose my view, he was free to choose any game he wanted but I insisted it has to be just one. Otherwise, it could have been a case of neither here nor there,” Santosh told Deccan Herald. Iyer then opted for cricket and it has turned out to be a wise decision.

Two impressive domestic seasons coming on either side of a memorable Indian Premier League debut for Delhi Daredevils in 2015, has made everyone sit and take note of the immense talent that this 21-year-old possesses. While many feel the right-hander should have been in the Indian squad by now, several others think it’s just a matter of time before he is handed an India cap. The numbers that Iyer has stacked up in a short span justify claims by both camps.

A whopping 2339 runs at an average of 58.47 in 27 first-class matches are outstanding enough but when those runs are collected at a strike rate of 83.53, then you know you have serious talent. But the youngster himself is remarkably unaffected by all the talk around him.

“I am not in a hurry,” he says nonchalantly. “It (selection talk) doesn’t bother me at all. I keep on doing my job which is to score runs. Selection isn’t in my hand but I know that one day I will play for India.”

Down to earth

It’s easy to brand Iyer haughty but he is anything but that. Born in a traditional south Indian family -- his father has his roots in Kerala and mother is a Tulu-speaking Mangalorean -- Iyer has been instilled the value of humility. He is just a new-age Indian youngster who is supremely confident of his own abilities. “All of them (Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid etc) have given me a lot of advice, I wouldn’t point out a single person. All of them have helped me, but a majority of the credit goes to me because I have worked hard,” he said the other day, when asked about his interactions with two of India’s modern batting greats. Now, that’s not arrogance. It’s just attitude.

Not since Manish Pandey stormed Indian cricket with an IPL hundred and a sparkling Ranji Trophy campaign in 2009-10, has a young Indian batsman fired the imagination of the cricket-loving public of the country like Iyer has. A hundred in the Ranji Trophy final and over 1300 runs in a single season, next only to VVS Laxman’s 1415, have shown that his tally of 809 runs in his debut season was not a flash in the pan.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling, getting a century in the final,” he stresses. “Actually I was very confident because I got an 80 and 90 in the quarterfinal and semifinal and I knew I was in a good form. I decided I will have to score a century because whenever I score my team wins. My aim for the season was simple; I just decided to break my record that I had set in the previous season. Last season I scored 800 odd runs and I am really happy to have surpassed that tally. Scoring 1300 runs … It’s been a dream season for me.”

While the amount of runs he has stacked up is impressive, the rate at which he has scored them is awe-inspiring. Not surprisingly, he is drawing comparisons with the peerless Virender Sehwag.

“I don’t compare myself with anyone, I just like to be my own,” he insists. “I don’t think I am similar to him because he was an opening batsman and I bat at No 3 but approach wise he was a master at what he did. I don’t think people should compare me with him. If you look at his achievements and all those international runs that he has scored, I am nothing at the moment.

“But yes, I just like to go out there and express myself, and play each ball on its merit. I don’t decide in advance as to how I should be playing on a particularly day and a particular pitch,” he explains.