Iyer: I like to write my own destiny

He has been demoralising bowlers, altering scripts and winning games for Mumbai on the chase. Sportstar caught up with the typically confident Shreyas Iyer, who leads the list of run-getters in the ongoing Ranji Trophy season with 1056 runs in nine matches.

Shreyas Iyer (right) with Chandrakant Pandit, the Mumbai coach ahead of the semifinal against Madhya Pradesh.   -  V. Ganesan

He has been demoralising bowlers, altering scripts and winning games for Mumbai on the chase. Shreyas Iyer has backed his natural ability with stunning numbers this season. He leads the list of run-getters in Ranji Trophy with a sensational 1056 runs in nine matches at 70.40.

When Sportstar up caught up with this prolific 21-year-old after he finished a training session on Friday, Iyer was typically confident. “I like to prove the doubters wrong. When someone predicts my future, I don’t like it. I like to write my own destiny,” he said nonchalantly ahead of the semifinal against Madhya Pradesh.

When he was unable to convert his IPL success into sizable scores at first-class level consistently, many believed Sheyas was not ready for the longer format. “What I have done this season is to break my innings into segments of 25 runs each, set myself small goals, concentrate harder after each phase, and build an innings. It has worked for me,” said Shreyas.

Belief is his strength. “I want to dominate the bowling at No. 3, don’t want to allow bowlers to get on top of me. If the ball is in my area, I will go for the shot.”

Shreyas also remembers a valuable piece of advice from batting legend Rahul Dravid, his coach at India ‘A’, ahead of the Ranji season. “He told me ‘focus more on your defence.’ I have done that, particularly off the front foot where I see to it that there is no gap between bat and pad.”

'Stick to your process'

Dravid, whom he calls “very direct, approachable, and caring,” also told Shreyas to “Stick to your process and keep enjoying the game.”

The two-fold message from Dravid was clear – he wanted Shreyas to tighten up his game without losing the stroke-filled inventiveness of his batsmanship. It is in this context that Shreyas is particularly pleased with his 176-ball 200 against Punjab – his maiden double century in first class cricket – at the Wankhede Stadium this season.

That was an innings of both solidity and enterprise, a knock of substance and joy, that Dravid had sought from him.

Crucially, Shreyas is adept with his back-foot play. “I can cut, and do pull when I get my eye in. I realise that in top class cricket you will not get pacemen pitching the ball up. You have to develop your back-foot game.”

Shreyas acknowledges the contribution of his Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit in his development as a batsman. “He’s always there for you, gives you full freedom. He never makes you feel that he is your coach but gets his point across very well.”

The Mumbaikar relishes the responsibility of being his team’s top batsman and awaits the challenge of playing on a greenish pitch here. Shreyas is the hottest batsman in the Indian domestic scene these days. He is still aggressive but more judiciously so.