By Sudipto Ganguly
MUMBAI (Reuters) – India’s search for a limited-overs No.4 batsman may finally be at an end after Shreyas Iyer proved his worth with a maiden Twenty20 international fifty in Sunday’s series decider against Bangladesh.
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.”
With the experienced partnership of Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan locked in as openers and captain and batting talisman Virat Kohli coming in at first drop, India have a top order to rival any in the game.
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.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Peter Rutherford)