Shreyas Iyer’s international career has been a bumpy ride. Ever since making his T20I debut against New Zealand in 2017, the crafty right-hander has been in and out of the team due to injuries or due to strong competition. The Mumbaikar didn’t get a single chance to represent India in T20Is in 2018 and has often been ignored on foreign tours with 22 off his 29 matches coming on home soil.
In 2021, with a string of consistent performances, it almost seemed like he was solidifying his position in the team but a shoulder injury during the home series against England ruled him out of the action of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021.
Fortunately for Iyer, he has a chance to prove his case for a place in the T20 World Cup squad with the IPL 2021 shifting to UAE for the second leg. It is a chance Iyer would be eagerly waiting for as the premier tournament has often brought the best out of him.
After six seasons with Delhi Capitals, Iyer is their second-highest run-scorer, just 92 runs behind current captain Rishabh Pant, and has contributed above 18 percent of the team’s total runs in each season.
Over the years, Iyer has cemented his place as a constructor of big knocks for Delhi. His strike rate goes from 108.77 in the power play to 129.47 in the middle overs to 167.6 in the death overs. He takes some to settle as his dot-ball percentage of 50 in the powerplay suggests but makes up for it in the middle overs with a boundary every 7.14 balls.
The methodical approach to his innings in the IPL is in contrast with his numbers for India, where his strike rate is as low as 95.83 in the powerplay - the lowest among the top-order batsmen. In the middle overs, where he is usually effective, Iyer has a strike rate of 122.86, hitting a boundary every 8.17 balls. Since Iyer’s debut, Shikhar Dhawan (21) and Rohit Sharma (22) have batted in this phase for nearly the same amount of innings (21), but possess strike rates above 134 .
Unlike his many peers, Iyer’s performances are affected considerably when he bats down the order. For Delhi Capitals, he has batted at No. 5 and No. 6 only four times since 2015 while 1040 off his 2200 IPL runs have been scored while batting at No.3.
For India, Iyer has to compete with the likes of KL Rahul, Virat Kohli, Dhawan and Rohit which meant he was forced to bat at No.5 and No.6 in 14 off his 26 T20I innings. With Surya Kumar Yadav staking his claim to the No.3 spot and the likes of Prithvi Shaw and Karnataka’s Devdutt Padikkal knocking at the door for an opening role, Kohli will be willing to bat No. 4 which leaves Iyer relegated to the lower-middle order.
However, the same venues for IPL remainder will later host the T20 World Cup in October and November, which will offer Iyer an equal opportunity to prove his mettle alongside his competitors. Having spent four months away from the grind of competitive cricket, Iyer might come out of the break rejuvenated with a change in his approach being the prime focus.