Shreyas Iyer vs BAN 2nd ODI
Iyer scored 82 off 102 balls, which included 6 fours and 3 sixes, in the second ODI against the Tigers.

Shreyas Iyer is enjoying a purple patch with the bat in the 50-over format for India. Iyer showed his skills once again in the recently concluded ODI series versus New Zealand, which India lost. One of the biggest takeaways from India’s performance was the impact Iyer had. Slowly and steadily, Iyer has shown what consistency is like and how he breathes in a format that suits his approach. Of late, India lacked genuine middle-order batters. It was a prominent feature in the 2019 World Cup. 

With the 2023 World Cup in India, Iyer’s stability means India can be relaxed with how things are shaping up as far as their middle-order is concerned. Iyer will likely come in at number five, and his ability to rotate the strike well, besides finding the gaps, will help India immensely. India need an engine in the middle, and Iyer brings that aspect. He deserves a thorough run in this Indian side and should be respected. Here we analyse why Iyer looks set to be a mainstay in this Indian cricket team in ODIs.

Breaking down Iyer’s ODI career

Iyer made his ODI debut in 2017 versus Sri Lanka. Since then, he has featured in 36 matches, scoring 1428 runs at an average of 49.24 (SR 98.21). He has so far managed to slam two hundreds and 13 fifties. With the World Cup set to be held in India next year, Iyer can promise fireworks. On home soil, he has mustered 624 runs from 14 matches at 56.72. He has registered one ton and six fifties, with the best of 113*. In away conditions (home of opposition), he has scored a notable 804 runs at a decent average of 44.66. He has tallied one century and seven half-centuries. 

2022 has been Iyer’s year in ODI cricket

2022 has been kind to Iyer as far as the 50-over format is concerned. Iyer is the 3rd-highest scorer for India this year in ODIs behind Shikhar Dhawan and Shubman Gill. Notably, Iyer has piled up 615 across 12 games at 61.50. He has smashed five fifties and a ton. Iyer has enjoyed a solid strike-rate of 95.49 to highlight how productive he can be in that middle order. In 10 matches away from home, Iyer has bagged 344 runs at 43.00, hitting three fifties. At home, Iyer has enjoyed dominance, amassing 274 runs at an astronomical average of 135.50. He has hit one century and two fifties.

Why can Iyer be India’s main asset at number four?

India need a solid number four to dictate the play and not be makeshift. India’s front three are already settled with Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, and Virat Kohli on offer, but a proper number four is what can lend a voice. Iyer comes into play here. He is a natural middle-order player, and him coming at number four will help India in terms of balance. India can then pick one from Sanju Samson, Rishabh Pant, or KL Rahul to don the number five role, with Hardik Pandya and Ravindra Jadeja being the all-rounders who can finish. Iyer has done well at number 4 for India. As per ESPNcricinfo, he has scored 684 runs at 57.00. Notably, both of his ODI hundreds have come while batting in this position. He has also bagged five fifties. 

Numbers in the middle overs for Iyer

In the middle overs (16-40), Iyer has done an able job. His 999 runs at an average of 49.95 look strong on paper. Middle overs are when you construct the innings to help the side maximise at the death. Iyer has 397 singles and 49 twos, and six threes in the middle overs. It shows why he is a suitable act in terms of strike rotation. He has also smashed 19 sixes and 93 fours and has been dismissed 20 times.

Experimentation versus New Zealand and other options

In the recently concluded ODI series versus NZ, Iyer came to bat at number three in the absence of Kohli, who was rested alongside Rohit. And Iyer delivered the goods, scoring a solid 76-ball 80 in the first match and then a decent 49 in the third match that didn’t have a result later on. Regarding other options, Rishabh Pant failed to show anything substantial when given a chance at number four. Even overall in ODIs, Pant has struggled. Suryakumar Yadav is yet to make a name in ODIs. He is a stellar option in the 20-over format, but in ODIs, he has struggled. India have plenty of options at the top, but it’s the middle where you need solidity, and Iyer makes a strong case for himself.

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