NEW DELHI : The most instructive aspect of Shreyas Iyer’s knock, a finely crafted 71 on his ODI return, was how he constructed those runs. A top-order batsman who had built his reputation on dazzle, flowing drives and thumping cuts that saw him being hailed as the latest inheritor of Mumbai’s batting legacy, he demonstrated considerable maturity to tailor his game to suit the situation.
Like his ability to rotate strike, smother and milk the spinners like the 90s subcontinental batsmen used to — as many as 45 of his 71 runs were hoarded through singles and twos. A push to the covers, an extended push to long-on, a tap to third man, a tickle to fine-leg, the shots that are the staple of accumulators rather than aggressors.
The best of batsmen seamlessly combine both worlds. Like Virat Kohli, who was batting like a dream from the other end. So much so that when you filter through the highlights package, one would struggle for strokes that wow you for their daring or flamboyance, a stroke that you would archive. Maybe Iyer’s ramp or the clump of Kemar Roach towards the death might linger on, but not beyond these.
But Iyer’s primary currency were strokes many of India’s middle-order batsmen, tried in the prelude and through the World Cup, seemed to have forgotten, or not quite well-schooled at. Most of them seemed to oscillate between the blocking and blasting. Not the middle path, not the old-fashioned way of wearing the bowlers and fielders down with clever field manipulation and thus making it difficult to strangle the run rate.