Amid all the noise of Rishabh Pant being the next big thing in Indian cricket and now slowly fading into oblivion, another product from Delhi Capitals' stables, Shreyas Iyer, has finally come to the party and cemented his place in the middle-order for India in the shorter formats of the game.
In Auckland, where India was playing their first match away from home after the World Cup 2019, against opponents who had brought India's run at the tournament to a screeching halt, 25-year-old Shreyas Iyer rose to the occasion and guided India to a 6-wicket win. India chased down 203 runs in a match which they almost played landing directly in the stadium, after arriving in New Zealand.
Shreyas Iyer scored an unbeaten 58 off 29 balls and finished it off in style with a massive six over long-on. Shreyas Iyer being awarded the man of the match in India's first big away match after the World Cup is one thing, how one wished the batsman's temperament and maturity at the crease would have taken us over the line a few months back against the same rivals in the World Cup 2019, had he played.
Let us jog our minds to a few months back, when India went into the World Cup as firm favourites but without a proper no. 4 batsman. A player who can steady the ship if at all the 'Big 3', who very seldom fail at the top of the order, actually do fail on an unfortunate evening. They had Vijay Shanker who left the tournament midway after a freak injury in the nets, the all-rounder was replaced with a player (Mayank Agarwal) who had never ever played for India in ODIs before the World Cup 2019.
India fell short of the World Cup final by a mere 18 runs and there were gloom and sadness all over Manchester that day. Ravindra Jadeja who played a knock that may be remembered as one of India's best batting knocks in World Cups, couldn't take India over the line. Also, Dhoni who was agonizingly run-out in perhaps his last ODI match ever for India walked back into the shades with tears in his eyes. But all this could have been avoided, had we stabled the innings after our 3 big guns, Rahul, Kohli, and Rohit walked back to the Pavillion at 5 for 3. Would a cool and calm Shreyas Iyer hold the innings together along with Dhoni and Jadeja to take India over the line? All that is only a matter of an after-thought now.
But what is concerning is perhaps, why was Shreyas Iyer's entry into the team delayed by maybe one year when he was scoring the big runs in domestic and IPL cricket? Why were other younger prodigies like Rishabh Pant and Prithvi Shaw given opportunities with the senior team ahead of him?
Shikhar Dhawan is averaging 44.2 in ODIs and 26.8 in T20Is with 6 fifties in 15 ODI innings, quickly earning the tag of Mr Reliable in the Indian team. If the Delhi Capitals skipper continues in the same vein, India may have a man with the potential to lead the Indian team after Kohli.