Monday, July 4, 2022

Shreyas Iyer: On this pitch, a fifty feels like a century

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“You can’t just play very negatively on that wicket and just keep defending the ball,” he says after hitting 92 off 98

There wasn’t much point defending out there, because the pitch was going to get you some time.

This, essentially, is what India batter Shreyas Iyer felt when he went out to bat on the first day of the day-night Test against Sri Lanka, in Bengaluru. So, having faced some nervous balls before tea, he batted much more aggressively after the break, racing to 20 off 19, later 50 off 54, and eventually 92 off 98.

Conditions were so tough, a fifty felt like a hundred, Iyer said after the day’s play.

“I personally felt that fifty was like a century. That’s why I celebrated like that. It was like a century feeling for me.

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“You saw the players who defended the ball, there was a lot of chance of nicking, and there was variable bounce on that wicket. You can’t just play very negatively on that wicket and just keep defending the ball. You’ve got to have that positive intent when you step out on the field. The wicket is not that great. It’s obviously bowler-friendly.”

Iyer revealed that it was a conversation that happened during a break that allowed him to play more freely than he otherwise might have. By the end of his innings, he had struck 10 fours and four sixes – more than two-thirds of his runs had come from boundaries.

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“The first five balls were really difficult for me because I went into bat just before tea. I was very nervous at that point in time and wanted to play through those two overs. After that, I came in, and we discussed with the coaches that this is what I’m going to plan and do on the wicket. I’m really happy I executed it really well.”

Iyer fell eight runs short of what would have been his second Test hundred. But making an impactful contribution to the team meant more, he said.

“I’m disappointed I didn’t get a hundred, but as a team, we got to over 250 which on this wicket is a fighting total. I don’t have any regrets.”

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo’s Sri Lanka correspondent. @afidelf

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