Pain, often excruciating, was Shreyas Iyer’s constant companion as he dealt with a back injury, and when it refused to subside even after undergoing surgery, he “panicked” thinking that his career could be on the line.
Prior to the surgery, Iyer was suffering, so much so that he “wasn’t even able to express properly” about what he was going through.
However, the 28-year-old stylish batter eventually recovered and returned to the Indian team for the upcoming Asia Cup. Now that he is back, he is taking it one step at a time.
Recalling the days of his struggles because of the injury, Iyer told the BCCI: “To be precise, I had this nerve compression, basically a slip disc, which was compressing the nerve, and the pain was going all the way down to the bottom of my tiny toe. And it was horrendous then.”
“I was in excruciating pain. I wasn’t able to express myself properly about what I’m going through.
“But yeah, this was the feeling that I was having then and it was hard to communicate with everyone. I had this issue for a while, but I was taking injections, and I was going through various routes to see to it that I am steady and playing many more matches.”
The batter then realised that surgery was the only answer to his problems.
“It reached a saturation point where I realised that ‘okay, now I have to get surgery’. And, the physios and the experts told me that it is important that you go under the knife and get this done with.
“Straight after the injury, I went back home after being hospitalised for two days. I gave myself rest for almost 10 days.”
The middle-order batter has thanked all his teammates for showing compassion during his most difficult phase and also after his comeback to the fold.
“Feeling ecstatic, to be honest, to join the team and see happy faces all around. The compassion shown by all the players was fantastic, and I am thrilled to be back.”
Iyer’s last outing was in March during the final Test of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which India won 2-1 before his injury kicked in. It also forced him to miss out on leading Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2023.
“At that period, one of the doctors had come to check my toe strength. He said that you can manage, but at the same time, the surgery will also be required.
“So, I thought the best decision would be to get the surgery done because I have long years ahead to play. And yeah, I am truly happy with my decision. After the surgery, the surgeon also said that it was a great decision that you decided to go for the surgery.
“Post surgery, I was there for three weeks in London because the doctor had to check the progress over some time. So, after three weeks, he was happy, and he asked me to come back (return to India. And then, the physios took over at the NCA.”
Iyer further said that recovery post-surgery was not easy either as it took time for the pain to subside, and he had also panicked at one point.
“It was a roller-coaster ride. The pain was there until three months, and then after that, it started subsiding.
“But, at the same time, the physios were focused on getting the range back of my hamstring and glutes and everything. When you are going through a rehab, especially as a professional athlete, it is tough when the pain is not subsiding.
“Thankfully, I had a great set of friends around me and support staff and also my family. They were the ones who calmed me down in this situation, and I was panicking as well.
“But, patience is the key at this point, especially. So yeah, I’m truly happy to be where I am right now because I never imagined that I would recover so fast.”
Speaking about the “testing phase” at the National Cricket Academy (NCA) here, Iyer termed it as his toughest period.
“The testing phase was the toughest period to go through, and the physios and the trainers were pretty confident about me coming back strong. But, in my mind, I could feel the pain.
“So, I was pretty oblivious at that point of time whether I would pass the test or not. But, over some time, I realised that the pain is subsiding and my strength is improving in my leg,” he said.
“So gradually, as we started doing some running sessions, the first session was extremely tough. I was a bit perplexed then.
“Second session, I was progressing. I did some trial yo-yo tests, and gradually, after some time, I played a match, and then, I was gaining that momentum. Then, in the yo-yo test, I surprised myself as well.”
Iyer will be looking to bounce back in style during the upcoming Asia Cup, keeping in mind the ICC World Cup, to be played in India in October-November.
However, he is not thinking too far ahead and prefers staying in the present.
“For me, it is important right now to be in the present and do my routines right. I don’t want to think what is going to happen beyond and what has happened in the past.
“I am ticking all the boxes day by day. In terms of preparation, I had a fantastic two days of practice with the boys, and also, it was competitive. So happy to be embracing every moment,” concluded Iyer.
India’s Asia Cup contingent is undergoing a week-long conditioning camp in Bengaluru from August 23-29 and will open their campaign on September 2 against Pakistan.
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