Iyer solidifying No.4 spot; Pujara says okay with pink ball as D/N Test looms - GulfToday

Iyer solidifying No.4 spot; Pujara says okay with pink ball as D/N Test looms


India’s Shreyas Iyer bats during the third Twenty20I match against Bangladesh in Nagpur on Sunday. Associated Press

With Shreyas Iyer proving his worth with a maiden Twenty20 international fifty in Sunday’s series decider against Bangladesh, India’s search for a limited-overs No.4 batsman may finally be over.

India’s struggles to fill the batting spot dominated the headlines in the lead-up to this year’s 50-over World Cup in England, where they went out in the semi-finals to New Zealand.

It has been the same in the T20 format with a number of candidates fluffing their auditions in the buildup to the World Cup and Iyer was promoted to the spot for the three-match series against Bangladesh having previously batted a spot lower.

After impressive cameos in the first two matches at Delhi and Rajkot, the 24-year-old Mumbai batsman smashed 62 off just 33 balls in India’s series-clinching win at Nagpur.

“Obviously there is lot of competition currently going on in the team,” Iyer told reporters. “I personally feel that I compete with myself. I don’t want myself to be judged with anyone or when you say that this position is empty in the team.

“I am really open-minded and can bat at any number at a given point.”

Iyer scored a couple of half-centuries in the 50-overs format in the West Indies and showed plenty of positive intent against Bangladesh to suggest he could be the long-term answer at the spot with the T20 World Cup in Australia less than a year away.

“It has been a really important last few series for me to set up the benchmark at the No. 4 position, which all of us are competing for at the moment,” said Iyer, who leads the Delhi franchise in the Indian Premier League T20 tournament.

“For me personally, they (team management) have given me a heads up that, ‘You’ll be there at No.4 so just back yourself and really believe in yourself’.

“We need someone even when Kohli and Rohit get out to finish the game and bat till the end. That role is of a No.4.”

Meanwhile, with the T20I series done and dusted, the focus now shifts to the Test series between India and Bangladesh. And more importantly, the pink ball Test at the Eden Gardens from Nov.22-26. While it will be the maiden Day-Night Test for both the teams, one man who has been there and performed under lights against the pink ball is India’s Test specialist Cheteshwar Pujara.

The 2016 edition of the Duleep Trophy was played with the Kookaburra pink ball and Pujara topped the run charts (453) with two hundreds, including a 256 not out for India Blue.

Speaking to IANS, Pujara played down the whole debate and said that things wouldn’t be very different from a batsman’s perspective when it comes to playing against the pink ball as compared to the conventional red ball.

“I don’t think there will be a major difference when you start playing with the pink ball. Since I haven’t played (against the SG pink ball) I am not sure, but my assumption is that even the SG pink ball will be very similar to the red ball. I feel in India the quality of SG balls have improved,” India’s Test No.3 said.

“Looking at the recent series we played against South Africa, the guys were happy with the way the ball maintained shape and even the quality of the ball. So we are expecting the same thing even with the pink ball. When it comes to pink ball, it will be little different from the red ball but I don’t see a massive difference.”

The 31-year old had previously spoken about the twilight period being a problem with the pink ball. Prodded further, he quipped: “Sometimes it is challenging in twilight playing with the pink ball. You need little more practice and once you keep playing with the pink ball at that time (twilight), you start getting used to it.”


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