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Shreyas Iyer hits back at criticism against short-ball

Last updated on 03 Nov 2023 | 04:31 AM
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Shreyas Iyer hits back at criticism against short-ball

After a string of poor scores - 19, 33 and 4 - Iyer returned to form in style with an 82 against Sri Lanka

Despite an obvious pattern in the mode of dismissal, Indian batter Shreyas Iyer insisted that there are “no problems” against the short ball. Iyer also hit back at the journalist, stating that there have been several short balls that he has hit towards the boundary. 

“Troubled me? Have you seen how many pull shots I've scored? Especially which has gone for four,” Shreyas Iyer said in the post-match press conference against Sri Lanka. 

Iyer, though, isn’t wrong. While there is always a dismissal around the corner, Iyer’s game against the short-ball has improved massively, with his strike-rate jumping to 107 against short deliveries in the last two years. 

In fact, Iyer finds a boundary every 5.4 deliveries against the short ball in the same time frame. However, at the same time, the bouncers have been an effective way to dismiss the right-hander, with three dismissals in 55 deliveries since 2022, where Iyer only has a control of 81.8%. 

“If you're trying to hit a ball, you're bound to get out anyway. Irrespective it's a short ball, it's an over pitch. If I get bowled two or three times, you all would say that, OK, he can't play an in-swinging ball. He can't play a cut if a ball is seaming.”

“So, see, we, as players are bound to get out on any sort of deliveries. You guys have created that environment outside that he can't play a short ball. And I feel that people are picking that up every now and then and it plays on your mind regularly and you keep working on that.”

“Coming from Mumbai, especially from Wankhede, where the bounce is pretty much even and it bounces way more than any other pitches. So, I've played majority of my games here, so I know how to tackle it. It's just that when I go to hit some shots, you are bound to get out and sometimes it may work, sometimes it may not. And majority of the times it hasn't worked for me, maybe that's the reason you think it's a problem for me. But in my mind, I know there's no problem,” Iyer spoke about the perceived notion of his struggle against short-ball. 

India were always prepared to bat first here at Wankhede, a venue where teams usually have preferred to chase, owing to dew playing a factor. However, more often than not, it has been scoreboard pressure that has had the chasing team on toast at the venue. 

“I think we got lucky, especially when they won the toss and we were thinking that they would be batting first, especially when you come to Wankhede and play on such a brilliant track. And even in the huddle, when we decided that if we win the toss, we would be choosing to bat. But that didn't go according to plan. But we were lucky, as I mentioned earlier,” Iyer added. 

India were put on the back foot early on in the contest when Rohit Sharma was dismissed off the second ball. However, a crucial partnership between Virat Kohli (88) and Shubman Gil (92) ensured India’s run-rate kept ticking. From thereon, it was a point to prove for Iyer, who came out attacking the bowlers. 

Iyer, thus far in the tournament, has had regular starts barring the Australia game. But never has he been able to convert those starts into a substantial score. On November 2 (Thursday), there was a prime opportunity, and Iyer took it with both hands. 

During his 82, Iyer peppered the ball outside the boundary ropes six times while caressing them for three fours, batting with a strike-rate of 146, the best strike-rate for any batter on the night. 

“Yeah, it was playing on my mind right from the start, because I was getting tremendous starts in the first few games. I wasn't just able to capitalize on what I was getting to. But today, I just told myself that if it's there in my area, I'm just going to go take the bull by the horns,” Iyer added. 

“And yeah, fortunately, it worked for me and I hope that it keeps on working for me in the future as well, because the team is in a great space at the moment. And the players are cherishing each other's performance. That is very important when you come in such a big stage.”

After setting a target of 358, Sri Lanka’s run-chase never took off, with Jasprit Bumrah striking off his first delivery, removing Pathum Nissanka. From thereon, wickets kept tumbling like a pack of cards, as Sri Lanka were absolutely demolished, getting bowled out for just 55. 

Not only did India have the second-largest win in terms of runs in World Cup history, but also became the first team to win two games by a margin of over 300 runs. It was on the back of a three-wicket haul from Mohammed Siraj and a five-wicket haul from Mohammed Shami. 

“From outside (Asia Cup final), it was a bit different. But now playing on the field, I felt that today's performance was surreal, especially by the bowlers, the way they stood up to the occasion. And once we got that two - three wickets, we just capitalized on that,” Iyer talked about the bowling unit.

“And as a bowling unit, and also as a fielding unit, we supported our bowlers by taking a few catches here and there. So yeah, as I mentioned earlier, team is in a great space of mind.”

India’s next clash is against South Africa on November 5 (Sunday), a clash that is well-hyped at the moment. 

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