Always knew Shreyas was special, says Pravin Amre

Having coached Shreyas Iyer since the age of 11, Pravin Amre says he always knew Shreyas was special, while adding that the 23-year-old may be unorthodox but is very effective.

Shreyas Iyer sends one to the covers during his knock of 88 against Sri Lanka in the second ODI on Wednesday.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Shreyas Iyer had to win the India cap to qualify to host coach Pravin Amre for a dinner. “I told him I’ll come to your house only after you play for India,” said Amre. And Iyer achieved the distinction in the T20 series against New Zealand last month.

As a 10-year-old, when he ambled up with a request to Amre at the Shivaji Park Gymkhana, Iyer was told to wait for a year. “I did not want to add a 26th name to my list of trainees,” recalled Amre. The determined young cricketer that Iyer was, he returned a year later. And their association led to Mumbai cricket, and now India, to invest in a gifted batsman.

With that innings of 88 against Sri Lanka in the company of a rampaging Rohit Sharma, the 23-year-old perhaps played the decisive knock of his career. His batchmates from Shivaji Park Gymkhana – Shardul Thakur and Siddhesh Lad – must have celebrated the arrival of a talented batsman taking that significant step.

READ: Sharma double flattens Lanka, levels series 1-1

Rohit summed up Iyer’s performance well, “It didn't look like he was only playing his second ODI. I am very impressed the way he played. He showed the right temperament. The conditions were perfect to bat and he made the most of it. He played with confidence in only his second ODI match. It is sad that he missed his century, but I am sure he will have many more to his name in the future.”

Iyer had a rocky first-class debut, at no. 7, when Mumbai lost to Jammu and Kashmir at the Wankhede Stadium in 2014. He registered figures of 7 and 1. “I backed him because I knew he was special,” remembered Amre. His pupil finished the season with an aggregate of 809 runs and bettered it next year by amassing 1321 runs, the highest by any Mumbai batsman ever.

The knock against Sri Lanka reaffirmed Iyer’s promise as he traversed various cricket fields and tamed many an attack to announce his potential. He is from the Mumbai school but with a difference. He is not the quintessential Mumbai batsman – head down, playing in a 'V', building his innings. He wants to dominate, hit the first ball that he faces and would not mind playing across. He is different.

From no. 7, he climbed to the no. 3 slot and made his mark. “He can win you the game because he will spot quickly and hit the loose ball. He will not want to play it safe just because he is fresh at the crease. In my opinion he is unorthodox but very effective,” noted Amre.

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The 2015 Indian Premier League (IPL) auction was a turning point for Iyer. From a base price of ten lakh, he commanded a whopping 2.6 crore from the owners of Delhi Daredevils. Once again, Amre, as a coach at Delhi Daredevils, was the man behind Iyer earning recognition he richly deserved. It was little wonder that Iyer won the Emerging Player Award in that edition of the IPL.

It was to Iyer’s advantage that he had Rohit as partner at the PCA Stadium. He has imbibed the confidence that a Mumbai batsman carries to the crease. Often it is misconstrued as arrogance. “That is the problem with our critics. They are always in a rush to prejudge as it has happened in Shreyas’ case,” averred Amre.

His confidence was best highlighted with that double century for India `A’ against Australia early this year. It earned him a place in the 14 for the Test at Dharamshala. After the failures in the T20 series against New Zealand, Iyer has bounced back with vigour to emerge as an impact player. Here's one more star from the Mumbai batting factory.

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