The picture couldn’t have been bleaker for Shreyas Iyer when he was ruled out midway through the Asia Cup due to a back spasm.
The pressure was building on him after his dismissal for a single-digit score in the first ODI against Australia at Mohali last week, which was also his comeback game. But Iyer grabbed the next opportunity by the horns and played an innings (90-ball 105) in the second ODI in Indore on Sunday that didn’t just let him heave a sigh of relief, but was also an instance of his determination to return to Team India’s scheme of things.
With the national selectors set to meet in New Delhi on Tuesday, it wouldn’t be wrong to say Iyer has more or less confirmed his place in the ODI World Cup squad and his prospects of a middle-order slot too cannot be ignored completely, thanks to such a dominant innings.
“The selectors never had any doubt over Shreyas’ batting skills. His fitness was the sole concern. But he’s back and looks perfect now in terms of fitness as well,” a BCCI source said on Monday.
But will it be easy for Iyer to make the XI in this World Cup? May not be so. Captain Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Virat Kohli and KL Rahul appear to be the ones to make the top four, followed by all-rounder Hardik Pandya who can bat either at No.5 or 6.
With spinner all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja at No.7 and the bowlers slated to come in thereafter, it’s that remaining slot in the middle order where Iyer will have to fight for his place against keeper-batter Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav.
“It’s tough to overlook Surya at present despite Shreyas’ innings,” feels Devang Gandhi, former national selector and current coach of Delhi.
“Obviously, Shreyas will be a valued addition to the team’s options, but you can’t ignore Surya’s finishing skills that are vital to India’s cause at present.”
What if India lose four early wickets? Wouldn’t the presence of someone like Iyer be needed more in such a situation? “Jadeja could be promoted up the order in that case as he and Pandya can anchor the innings while Surya can do his job in the last 10-15 overs,” Devang said.
Jatin Paranjape, another former national selector, feels Iyer would be India’s ideal No.4. “Shreyas has given some much-needed confidence to Rohit. He’s a strong character as it’s never easy to produce such a knock when you’re returning after a hard time.
“Shreyas has proved himself in ODIs, so I feel he’s best suited at No.4. KL can come in at No.5, followed by Pandya and Jadeja.”