Rest, light training, Gambhir’s nod: Shreyas Iyer’s impressive start to IPL 2024

Shreyas Iyer and Rinku Singh vs RCB
Shreyas Iyer and Rinku Singh vs RCB (PC: X)

Back badiya hai (back is fine),” said Shreyas Iyer after the IPL game against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. He played a good hand in Kolkata Knight Riders’ victory, scoring 39 not out off 24 balls. More importantly, he didn’t feel any discomfort.

The back has been Iyer’s real bugbear of late. RevSportz earlier reported how even after a surgery last year, he wasn’t pain-free and had to take painkiller injections to play the World Cup. The back trouble resurfaced again during the India-England Test series. His back was developing spasms after playing 60 balls.

It is learnt that after the Ranji Trophy final, Iyer consulted a specialist and did a couple of scans. The results were OK and yet, the KKR captain joined his franchise with a touch of apprehension. How would his body react to almost non-stop cricket in the IPL? So far, so good, and Iyer has been managing his workload very carefully.

“Plenty of rest and light training, that’s how he is going about his job. It’s important for him not to stretch much,” an insider told RevSportz.

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Shreyas Iyer
Shreyas Iyer (PC: X)

The source also said how Iyer has been making an impression as a captain in the dressing room. “In sport, even some small things can help you grow as a leader and get the approval of the dressing room, which is very important. Shreyas’s decision to give the ball to Harshit Rana in the final over against Sunrisers Hyderabad was appreciated by his team-mates and the coaching staff,” said the source, adding that it was the captain’s decision and the dug-out didn’t have a role to play there.

After Mitchell Starc was ‘Klaasened’ for a 26-run over, KKR looked dead and buried in their IPL opener at Eden Gardens. Just 13 runs were required off the final over and the experienced Andre Russell, who still had two overs left, could have been a safer choice for Iyer. The skipper chose the young Rana instead and won the match by four runs.

The source said Iyer explained his thought process after the game. “He said that Rana bowled well in his first three overs and giving him the ball would create some doubts in the batsmen’s mind, as they were expecting Russell. Iyer relied on the unpredictability factor, backed the youngster and was handsomely rewarded.”

According to him, Iyer has developed a fine rapport with Gautam Gambhir, the team mentor, and the two have been discussing different leadership issues. Gambhir has given Iyer a completely free hand to take his decisions on the field. He has been guiding the captain with his inputs, but not interfering in his job.

KKR have made a roaring start to their campaign with back-to-back wins and according to the source, the team atmosphere this term has been fantastic.

Suryakumar Yadav for MI
Suryakumar Yadav for MI (PC: X)

Surya almost there

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Suryakumar Yadav is almost on the cusp of making a return to competitive cricket, as the National Cricket Academy is likely to clear him after another round of fitness tests, tentatively on April 2.

Surya underwent a fitness test last week and it showed significant progress. The world No. 1-ranked T20I batsman has been out of action since mid-December. He suffered an ankle injury in South Africa. Later, he was diagnosed with sports hernia and underwent surgery. He has been doing his rehab at the NCA since.

But the wait appears to be all but over. His franchise, Mumbai Indians, expect Surya to be back soon. It needs to be seen if he becomes available for MI’s home fixture against Delhi Capitals on April 7. The next game is another home affair, against Virat Kohli’s RCB on April 11.

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