VVS Laxman believes that Venkatesh Iyer, who earned his maiden India call-up for the home T20I series against New Zealand, can be groomed into a utility all-rounder and marked him as a potential backup for Hardik Pandya. Iyer had excelled as an opener for Kolkata Knight Riders at the IPL 2021.
A major takeaway from India’s 16-member T20I squad for their upcoming three-match T20I series against New Zealand was the inclusion of promising young guns, with the experienced players being rested.
Venkatesh Iyer, Avesh Khan and Harshal Patel were rewarded with maiden India call-ups, while Ruturaj Gaikwad too, got another chance after he had been a part of India’s limited-overs tour to Sri Lanka earlier this year. Each of the aforementioned players had starred at IPL 2021, which formed the base of their selection.
VVS Laxman was in all praise for Iyer in particular, who he feels can be a backup for Hardik Pandya in future, with the latter having not bowled consistently of late. Iyer aggregated 370 runs from 10 outings while opening the batting in Kolkata Knight Riders’ run to the final. Laxman however, had a different role in mind for the youngster.
"I just want someone like Venkatesh Iyer to bat out of his position,” Laxman told Star Sports. “India have got five openers in that squad and you know that Ishan Kishan, KL Rahul and Rohit Sharma are your front-runners for that spot. So Venkatesh Iyer needs to fit but not in the top order.
"You want him to bat at No. 5 or No. 6, and also chip in with the bowling, probably a couple of overs or more and make him get used to that position. He could be the back-up to Hardik Pandya. You can develop Venkatesh Iyer as a utility all-rounder."
Laxman was pleased to see youngsters being rewarded on the basis of their IPL exploits, which he feels will help in building the team for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia.
"I think they have rewarded the players who have done well in the IPL, which is the way forward keeping in mind that the World Cup is going to happen in Australia in one year's time,” he said.
“I think it is an excellent squad, not only in the batting department but also in the fast-bowling unit as well. There is Harshal Patel who is excellent in the death overs… there is Avesh Khan who has got express pace."
The first of three India-New Zealand T20Is will be played in Jaipur on November 17.