#INDvAUS: Shreyas Iyer blunts Australian spin – India A batsman takes the attack to Lyon, O’Keefe in warm-up and grows his image as India material
India A batsman Shreyas Iyer (right) gears up to cut during the three-day warm-up match against the Australians at Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday (DNA – Salman Ansari)
Nathan Lyon had just removed India A opener Akhil Herwadkar with a caught and bowled dismissal off a leading edge in the fourth over of his spell.
The off-spinner was getting some bounce off an otherwise placid Brabourne Stadium pitch. Shreyas Iyer walked in at No. 3. A little gardening on the deck, a little glance of the field.
First ball, facing Australia's premier tweaker, Iyer danced down the wicket and heaved Lyon over midwicket for a six. What was that, mate?
Lyon gave him a long stare, the Australian fielders stood unmoved, probably a bit flummoxed. Captain Steve Smith pushed the mid on back immediately.
Not that it stopped Iyer.
The Mumbai batsman struck an attacking unbeaten 85 off just 93 balls to take India A to 176/4 at stumps on the second day of the warm-up game here on Saturday. The Australians declared their innings 33 minutes after lunch at 469/7 after Mitchell Marsh and Matthew Wade both struck half-centuries.
If the Aussies hoped for their spinners to get some morale-boosting spells out of the warm-up game, Iyer ensured it was bare minimum. The 22-year-old Mumbai batsman went into fourth gear against both their spinners, Lyon and Steve O'Keefe, with both going above four runs an over in the 17 and 14 overs that they bowled, respectively.
That Iyer was of better class than the rest of his India A batting colleagues showed in the way he dealt with the Australian bowling unit, though without Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. He attacked early on, got the field spread out, and then merely milked the bowlers.
Even some sledging from wicketkeeper Wade and David Warner wasn't able to rattle the 22-year-old.
"'This guy doesn't know how to play defensive strokes. He can't defend the ball'." Iyer elaborated after revealing after the day's play about some on-field banter. "I was proving them wrong," he added.
And probably some others who thought he isn't India material.
Iyer also hit a century in the previous tour game that India A played against Bangladesh, and has an average of 43 in this season's Ranji Trophy for Mumbai. But while he has been scoring heavily in the domestic season, an aspect that has gone against him is his inability to consistently get those big runs when it matters the most, especially while touring overseas with the A team.
That has seen someone like Karun Nair overtake the Mumbaikar into the already-crowded Indian Test squad. Iyer knows that he has to buy his time, and continue scoring heavily on a more consistent basis to get a look in.
"I am just enjoying my batting. I just want to keep playing. I just want to keep scoring and improving as much as I can. It's going well at the moment. The Indian team is packed right now and it's really tough to get into that side. I have to be consistent enough. One day, I'll definitely get my chance, I hope," Iyer said.
A big hundred on Sunday would go a long way in taking him closer to that chance.
Brief scores: Australians 469/7 decl in 127 overs (M Marsh 75, M Wade 64, G Maxwell 16*; N Saini 2/42, A Herwadkar 1/64, H Pandya 1/84, S Nadeem 1/126) vs India A 176/4 in 51 overs (S Iyer 85*, P Panchal 36, A Bawne 25, H Pandya 19; J Bird 2/15, N Lyon 2/72)