NEW DELHI: ‘One step at a time’ – that’s the mantra Venkatesh Iyer wants to follow after his India debut.
Iyer was selected for the three-match T20I series against New Zealand and scored 36 runs in 3 matches at an average of 18.00 and took one wicket in the 3 overs he bowled in the third and final T20I of the series.
The numbers haven’t been very impressive, but there is no doubt that this talented all-rounder has the support and backing of his team management. Rohit Sharma has already talked about how Iyer is part of India’s future plans and how the role they have asked him to play is that of a lower middle order batsman, batting at numbers 5-6 or 7, thanks to his big hitting abilities.
After India blanked New Zealand 3-0, the new T20I captain Rohit Sharma came forward and handed over the winning trophy to debutants Iyer and Harshal Patel.
MEMORABLE DEBUT SERIES
“It was a memorable series for me. Wearing an India jersey was a dream and it came true. Winning the trophy in my debut series and that too by a clean sweep was a massive thing for me. I am really happy,” Iyer told TimesofIndia.com in an exclusive interview.
“During the victory and trophy celebration, Rohit bhai came and gave the trophy to me and said well done. Holding the winning trophy was an emotional and proud moment for me. I got a lot of support from my seniors, my captain Rohit bhai and coach Rahul sir. It was a special feeling for me when my captain Rohit bhai gave me the trophy and gave a lot of credit to me. He said you have done a good job, keep it up,” he said.
DEBUT CAP FROM CAPTAIN ROHIT
Ahead of the first T20I at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Iyer was handed the debut cap by captain Rohit. Iyer managed just 4 runs in his debut outing, but scored an unbeaten 12 in the second T20I to take India home and then smashed a 15-ball 20 in the third and last T20I in India’s 3-0 series-clinching win.
The grin says it all! 😊A moment to cherish for @ivenkyiyer2512 as he makes his #TeamIndia debut. 👏 👏#INDvNZ… https://t.co/jqp29Sieiv
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1637154215000
Iyer also bowled for the first time in his career in the third T20I and returned figures of 1-12 in 3 overs. His ability to control the flow of runs drew praise from captain Rohit.
“Good to see Venkatesh Iyer bowling those overs with the skills he has. Important for us going forward. I would prefer that going forward,” Rohit had said at the post-match presentation.
“When I got my cap and then went to the middle, Rohit bhai said to go there and express myself and enjoy the moment. He backed me a lot and gave a lot of tips. Rohit bhai knows how to take the pressure off a player and his tips were really valuable for me,” Iyer further told TimesofIndia.com.
“Whatever challenge comes my way, I will accept it. As a cricketer, I should be ready for everything. If my captain asks me to bowl, I will bowl as many overs needed and pick wickets. If my captain asks me to bat, I will go to the middle and score as many runs for my team as possible,” the 26 year old from Indore, who played a big role in the Kolkata Knight Riders turning their season around and reaching the final of IPL 2021 further said.
FUTURE ROLE IN THE TEAM
Going forward it will be interesting to see if the Indian team management shapes Iyer as a floater, ready to bat in whichever lower middle order position required in T20Is, depending on the match situation. We have already seen a glimpse of that in the three match T20I series against the Black Caps. Iyer batted at number six in the first T20I, at three in the second T20I, and then again at six in the third match when India batted first.
“It is always good to contribute in multiple departments. I am an all-rounder and I need to be ready in all three departments – batting, bowling as well as fielding. I don’t want to focus on the competition part. If I am picked, it’s my duty to perform. As a batsman, I need to be flexible to bat at any position. For this, I have prepared myself mentally. Be it opening the innings, No. 3. No 5, or lower down the order, send me, I will score runs. When you are representing your country, you need to play according to the team. You need to put the team first,” Iyer, who scored 370 runs in 10 matches, at an average of 41.11 for KKR in IPL 2021 said.
‘DRAVID & ROHIT KEEP THE DRESSING ROOM ATMOSPHERE RELAXED’
Sharing the dressing room with newly-appointed captain Rohit Sharma and the legendary Rahul Dravid has understandably been a huge learning curve for Iyer.
“Rahul (Dravid) sir is a legend of the game and has played a lot of cricket for India. He knows how to handle youngsters. I got a lot of backing from him as well. The best part with Rohit bhai and Rahul sir in the dressing room is that the communication was absolutely clear. Rahul sir and Rohit bhai keep the dressing room relaxed and keep motivating every player. Rahul sir gave me complete freedom to express myself. He had confidence in my abilities,” Iyer further told TimesofIndia.com.
Now that he has made his India debut and is part of the scheme of things for the future, its very important of course for Iyer to continue to perform in domestic cricket whenever he is not on national duty, so that he is always on the radar of the selectors. And that’s exactly what he plans to do.
“The Vijay Hazare Trophy will be my next stop. I want to take it one step at a time. I want to remain focused. Whatever opportunity or challenge comes my way, I will grab those with both hands,” Iyer signed off.