Shreyas Iyer caps off a thunderous year with match-winning contributions in Bangladesh

He knows he doesn’t have the best of techniques against short deliveries. He knows his batting technique is nowhere close to previous batting geniuses from India. Yet, Shreyas Iyer keeps piling up runs while defying all the odds against him. Perhaps, in his own words, “ignorance is bliss.”

The 71-run partnership between Iyer and Ravichandran Ashwin saved the blushes for India in the second Test against Bangladesh in Dhaka, at a time when India had their backs against the wall while tackling Mehidy Hasan Miraz and the rest of the Bangladesh bowlers.

Chasing 145, India were 71-6. Rishabh Pant was sent packing by Mehidy. And the next batter in was Shreyas Iyer. Soon, Iyer was joined by Ashwin after Mehidy got rid of Axar Patel to make India sweat at 74-7.

The visitors were staring at a humiliating defeat. But Iyer and Ashwin had different ideas. With Mehidy at the top his game – with a fifer – and pitch at Shere Bangla National Stadium producing uneven bounce, knocking down the remaining runs were going to be a challenge. Iyer took his time, knocked a few singles and twos here and there, showing why he is regarded as one of the best against spin bowling in India.

Iyer’s couple of boundaries off Shakib Al Hasan in the 41st over helped the Indian batter grow in confidence. That helped India put back the pressure onto Bangladesh before Ashwin went after Khaled Ahmed and Mehidy. Ashwin ended with 42 unbeaten while Iyer produced 29 not-out to help India seal the series 2-0. The 71-run stand between the pair was the second-highest eight-wicket partnership for India in fourth innings after Amar Singh and Lall Singh at Lord’s in 1932.

While the genius of Ashwin should be lauded (I feel he is a genuine all-rounder), Iyer, with all his flaws, has produced extraordinary numbers for India, across formats. Yes, he may not have played in the T20 World Cup and much of the limelight has been stolen by the herculean Suryakumar Yadav and two centuries from Virat Kohli but one should take time to appreciate what Iyer has done for India in 2022. Afterall, he ended the year as the third-highest scorer in international cricket. Only Babar Azam (2423*) and Litton Das (1922) have scored more than Iyer (1609) across formats in 2022.

What makes Iyer’s contribution with the bat even more special is that 70% of those runs (1121) have come in winning cause. The Indian batter has a staggering average of 66 when India wins.

Many were taken aback when Cheteshwar Pujara was named the Player of the Series against Bangladesh. Iyer had scored tough runs so why Pujara? An 86 to start the Test series in Chattogram, before dishing out a cracking 87 in the first. Then came the match-saving, match-winning 29 not-out when India were losing all their hopes. In total, he scored 202 runs in three innings at an average of 58.89.

To quickly sum up Iyer’s report card in 2022, the Mumbai dasher scored 422 runs in 5 Tests at an average of 60.28 including four half-centuries. In 17 ODIs, he notched up 724 runs at an averege of 55.69 and strike rate of 91.52 including one century and six half-centuries. Though he wasn’t part of India’s T20 World Cup squad, Iyer played 17 T20Is in 2022 while scoring 463 runs at an average of 35.61 and strike rate of 141.15 including four half-centuries.

When the debate for Cricketer of the Year for 2022 starts, Iyer’s name should definitely crop up — just because of his sheer consistency with the bat across formats. The numbers speak for itself and most of his runs have come in winning cause.

For India’s second Test win against Bangladesh, the 145-run total chased down was their third-highest successful chase in India in Test cricket in the last 10 years. And Iyer had a defining role to play in the game.

With the 2-0 Test series win against Bangladesh, India are now favourites to find a place in the ICC World Test Championship final unless Australia produce something outrageous in the upcoming four-match Test series in February.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *