India might be treating the ongoing ODIs against Australia as a warm-up exercise before the World Cup but Shreyas Iyer had all to play for going into the three-match series.
The 28-year-old has had to deal with his share of injuries since making his international debut back in 2017.
The Asia Cup that India won marked his comeback from a back surgery after six months but a back spasm in the middle of the tournament meant he only got to bat once over the course of two weeks.
Considering what he has gone through the year, especially the range of emotions in the last one month, a third ODI hundred could not have come at a better time for him.
Iyer was India's designated number four before the injury pegged him back and a virtual no show in the Asia Cup meant his place in the playing eleven was far from secure.
In the meantime, Ishan Kishan also made a strong claim for a middle-order spot with a few good knocks.
Iyer had a lot to prove in the Australia series and a run-out in the first ODI showed that luck too was not on his side. However, he made his own luck at the high-scoring Holkar Stadium on Sunday.
When he walked out to bat at number three, he had Gill at the other end like he had on Friday when got run out attempting a single.
The mix up might have played on his mind but in a high-pressure scenario, Iyer oozed confidence from the start and showed the same faith in Gill while taking a quick single to get off the mark. Iyer is known for his belligerent play against the spinners but he was equally effective against the pacers.
He began with a lofted hit off debutant Spencer Johnson before producing a couple of crisp cover drives off Josh Hazlewood. As Gill took his time to get going in the powerplay, Iyer found the gaps with ease.
An odd short ball was directed at Iyer deliberately but he was quick to put it away.
An aerial strike over cover off Sean Abbott pretty much confirmed that Iyer was in his elements. The 45-minute rain delay did not disturb his rhythm and he returned to do what he does best: take the attack to the spinners.
After slapping left-arm pacer Johnson for a straight six to bring up his fifty, Iyer punished leg-spinner Adam Zampa for bowling a half-tracker and his third six came in the following over from offie Matthew Short, a massive hit over wide long-on.
Strike rotation was also a key part of his innings comprising 39 singles.
Iyer completed a memorable hundred with a single off Zampa in the 30th over. The roar from him after reaching the milestone was understandable considering the series of events over the past six months.
The much needed runs from his bat might have come on a belter of a track and against an ordinary looking Australian attack.
But it might just be enough to settle the middle-order debate going into the World Cup at home.
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