A much needed knock for talented Shreyas

Youngster makes a point at Mohali

A much needed knock for talented Shreyas

As Shreyas Iyer rustled up a blazing 88 off 70 balls on Wednesday, the National selectors would have heaved a sigh of relief.

The Indian middle-order in one-day internationals and T20Is has been regularly experimented of late, keeping in mind the 2019 ODI World Cup. Shreyas, with his confident innings against Sri Lanka, has expanded the selectors' choices.  

While the top three places of the Indian batting order are sealed, it is No 4 and No 5 slots where India have been trying out their options. The repeated shuffling has lent instability to the middle-order, but for now the selectors are willing to the take the risk. On Wednesday, 18-year-old Washington Sundar was handed his debut, ahead of showing faith in the experienced Ajinkya Rahane.

Though former India captain MS Dhoni's wish to take the No 4 slot is well known, the wicket-keeper batsman has to stick to the No 6 slot to carry the lower order, including Hardik Pandya, in finishing the game. It is another matter that Pandya is often getting promoted to No 5 in order to accelerate the scoring.    

Manish Pandey was given a chance against the New Zealand, but the Karnataka batsman is yet to replicate the form in the limited overs, which has made him such a force in domestic circuit. Though his century at Adelaide was a memorable one, he hasn't been able to build on that.   Dinesh Karthik, drafted in for the current series, has had a phenomenal domestic season. However, against the bowler friendly conditions in Dharamsala, both he and Pandey failed to make an impact.    

Shreyas, who made his ODI debut in Dharamsala, too had a forgettable outing. It is also true that the surface at the PCA stadium was favouring the batsmen but Shreyas displayed an assurance that stood out.

The youngster, who has had two unimpressive T20I outings against New Zealand, had previously scored an unbeaten 140 off 131 deliveries for India A against South Africa A and then compiled an unbeaten 202 against Australia A side earlier in February. He was included in the squad after captain Virat Kohli was rested for the ODIs and T20 series, and took his No 3 spot both in Dharamsala and Mohali. He did justice to the coveted spot on Wednesday.

The 23-year-old Mumbai batsman, known for his attacking style, was fearless at the crease. He even struck a one-handed upper cut six to thrill the crowd. He was quick in farming the strike and showed the stamina to score big knocks during his 213-wicket partnership for the second wicket with Rohit Sharma.

So confident was his innings, that even Rohit, who hit a record-breaking third double century,  was impressed.

"It was a great day. Winning the game was important for me and the team after that loss in Dharamsala. I can keep talking about the batting that we did today, right from the start, with Shikhar giving us a brilliant start, and Shreyas Iyer. It didn't look like he was only playing his second ODI," Rohit.

"I am very impressed the way he played. He showed the right temperament. The conditions were perfect to bat and he made the most of it. He played with confidence in only his second ODI match. It is sad that he missed his century, but I am sure he will have many more to his name in the future."

Even as the selectors and management continue with their search for a perfect squad, Shreyas has showed that he is worth keeping an eye on.  

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