Shreyas Iyer, who top scored for India in the first T20I with a valiant 67, insisted that he is under no pressure to perform, and added that he currently is, in fact, enjoying his batting. Iyer further claimed that, despite the defeat, India will stick to their brand new plan of going for broke.
India walked into the five-match T20I series having not lost a bilateral T20I series in close to two years, but they were demolished without mercy by a much superior England side, who thrashed the Men in Blue by 8 wickets to go 1-0 up series. After being put into bat after losing the toss, India pretty much lost the game in the very first innings, putting up a paltry 124 on what was a flat batting deck.
A rare shining light, however, was Shreyas Iyer. The Delhi Capitals skipper walked in at an extremely precarious position, at 20/3, but ended up top scoring with 67, standing tall despite seeing the batsmen around him perish at regular intervals. It was a knock of huge significance for Iyer, whose place in the starting XI prior to the game, in fact, was not secure.
Many believe that the knock from Iyer on Friday might have helped him extend his stay in the side, but addressing the media post the game, the 26-year-old downplayed suggestions that he was or is under pressure. Iyer claimed that he, in fact, batted as freely as he ever has and revealed that he solely focused on just playing his natural game.
"I am in no sort of pressure to perform, I am playing freely, happily and enjoying my innings,” Iyer said in the post-match press conference, reported TOI.
"Coming into Indian team, you have to be flexible with which batting position you will be batting. I haven't made any changes, it is just the mindset, what the team requires and batted according to the situation. It was a challenging situation, we had to keep playing natural game and keep ticking scoreboard irrespective of losing early wickets."
Luckily for Iyer, the situation he encountered in the first T20I was not something too unfamiliar, thanks to him having seen similar top-order collapses whilst representing his IPL side, Delhi Capitals. In fact, he encountered an eerily similar scenario in the IPL 2020 final, where, after DC were reduced to 22/3, Iyer had to rebuild with Rishabh Pant. The DC skipper revealed that, coming in at 20/3, he knew exactly what he needed to do, thanks to having been in similar situations plenty of times in the past in the IPL.
"I have been in this situation before, been there in IPL, it is not the first time. I knew I will get odd boundaries, and momentum changes if get a partnership and then batters dominate bowlers, so from that point of view, their bowlers bowled well. It was their day and kudos to them,” Iyer said, talking about the rebuild-job he did.
"I knew Rishabh was hitting well, my thought was to just take singles. He was the dominator at the time and I decided I will play ball to ball before the spinners come on.”
Much to everyone’s surprise, on a deck that had pace and bounce, India fielded three spinners in the form of Yuzvendra Chahal, Axar Patel and Washington Sundar. The plan eventually backfired, though, as while England bamboozled India with raw pace, the Indian spinners failed to get any purchase out of the track. Iyer revealed that the reasoning behind picking three slower bowlers was India purely ‘backing their strength’.
"We practiced on this surface before the match and when spinners were bowling, it was stopping and turning, very similar to the two-paced wicket which we played on. The plan was to play three spinners, as that's our strength."
Prior to the first T20I, Kohli revealed that his men will adhere to a more carefree, aggressive approach, and while it did not reflect in the actual scorecard, there were glimpses of the Indian batsmen, particularly top-order players, trying to take the bowlers on early. Despite the plan falling flat in the first game, Iyer asserted that the Men in Blue will continue to stick to their new-found plan of trying to torch the bowlers from ball one.
"Definitely, it won't change because if you see the batting line up we have and the power-hitters down the line, we don't have to change anything to be honest."