Shreyas Iyer had been the standout performer of the last IPL season (2015). He had scored 439 runs in 14 matches at an average of 34.His fearless ,yet aesthetically-pleasing style of batting made it clear why his coach Praveen Amre saw shades of Virender Sehwag in him. If anything, Shreyas is a bit more orthodox technique-wise, and yet has a free-flowing manner of scoring runs.
It was with some anticipation that his coaches, fans, critics and the selectors awaited the IPL 2016 . Iyer was expected to sizzle and stake his claim for the national team. Shreyas had displayed remarkable technique in the longer format in the two seasons of Ranji trophy that he had played thus far. He has topped the national run chart this year scoring 1321 runs at an average of 74 at a strike rate of 91, as he helped himself to four centuries and seven fifties. He was the key figure that guided Mumbai to their historical 41st Ranji title. Last season ,he was the highest run-getter for Mumbai scoring 809 runs at an average of about 50. He is rightly seen as the next big thing and a near certainty to make it to the Indian team in the near future. Shreyas himself believed that his exploits already warranted him a place in the Indian team.(Said so in an interview)
But the current IPL, his second,has seen him caught in the dire straits.Nothing could have been more anti-climatic.In the first match,playing at one down ,he played Andre Russel (KKR) across the line, but the bat was late in coming down, and he was out leg before for a 2-ball duck.
While opening in the second match vs Kings XI, he was given out caught behind on Sandeep Sharma’s delivery which was drifting down the leg side .Replays clearly showed that he hadn’t nicked it. Score : 3 off 5 balls.
Chasing a huge target versus RCB in the third game, Iyer again opened and after being run-less on the first three balls,tried to hit a big one over the mid-on. Weise and Watson caught him in what was perhaps the catch of the tournament.
Three failures in a row meant he was now under pressure to deliver .His feet movement looked scratchy and timing had gone kaput . After crawling to 19 off 19 balls ,he holed out to Rayadu off a harmless Hardik ball. A lot of inside edges, with balls veering on his pads a couple of times , clearly suggested that he was struggling with the line of the bowl.
No wonder he was dropped for a game before being brought in again to open versus KKR. Another Russel ball found him playing across the line,bat was too slow in coming down, and damn ! Another leg before decision. A golden duck. A third zero in 5 innings. 22 runs in 5 games. An average of 4.40. Strike rate of 67.For a man who was being seen as the new Run Machine, Shreyas looked clueless about where the next run would come from.
He was dropped again, even as Rishabh Pant opened in the next game (seventh), and went on to score a sublime fifty.With Quentin de Kock in roaring form, Shreyas Iyer seems destined for a long wait before he regains his opening slot . These days, he looks completely out of sorts.It seems doubtful he would get another game in this IPL.
Thankfully there is Rahul Dravid in the dugout ,as well as Praveen Amre ,his coach, (assistant coach for Delhi) to turn to for help.For a 21 year old,who idolizes Usain Bolt ,Zlatan Ibramovic and ABD,time is on his side.But a lot of doubts must have crept in.Those cobwebs must be swept away.Perhaps going back to the Ranji, and regaining the form in the next season seems like the proper thing to do.In any case,IPL should be seen only as a catchment area for the T20s.That door seems closed for now.A long struggle is at hand.Lets hope Shreyas Santosh Iyer comes out of the blues with flying colours. India can do with his flamboyance.
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