Shreyas Iyer is the man of the moment in Indian cricket as his efforts with the bat have put India in a commanding position at the end of the fourth day’s play in the 1st Test against New Zealand. Things were not all rosy for the hosts through the course of the day as the balance swung in favour of both teams. After the Indian bowlers helped their team take a crucial first innings lead on day 3, the top order failed to fire as Tim Southee and Kyle Jamieson reduced India to 51/5 before Shreyas started a rescue act in the company of Ravichandran Ashwin (32) and Wriddhiman Saha (61*).
Shreyas, who had slammed a century on debut in the first innings, showed nerves of steel and the temperament of a seasoned batter as he stitched together two important partnerships to get India to a strong position. He was dismissed for 65 but Saha carried on the good work along with Axar Patel (28*) as India eventually declared the second innings on 234/7, setting the Blackcaps a target of 284 runs to win the match.
Speaking about the discussion with Rahul Dravid on the fourth day, Shreyas revealed what the head coach told him to do.
“In the end we have to win the match, and that would be the most important thing for me. Rahul sir said that I need to stay out in the middle for as much as possible and build on the score. Mindset was to play the session and play as many balls as possible. I wasn’t thinking too far ahead, was just focusing on the present,” Iyer said.
India now need 9 wickets to win the match on the final day after Ravichandran Ashwin dismissed New Zealand opener Will Young before stumps on Day 4. Iyer said that India need to have faith on its experienced spin trio to deliver.
“To be honest, there wasn’t much happening on the wicket. We needed to get to a competitive total, maybe around 275-280. We have to have faith in our spinners and know they can really put them under pressure on the final day,” Iyer said.
“I thought 250-odd including the lead was more than enough on this wicket, and fortunately we got some more,” he added.
His innings bailed the team out from 51 for five in the second innings. He had faced a similar situation during a make-or-break Ranji fixture against UP at the same venue seven years ago. He had prevailed then, and he prevailed on Sunday, too.
“I have been in these situations before, but not with the Indian team. I used to do this in Ranji games. The idea was to play session by session. I was aware I am the first Indian to score a century and a fifty,” Iyer added.
(With PTI inputs)
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