Iyer: I played on merit of the ball

Shreyas Iyer scored a century to help Mumbai take a slender lead with two wickets in hand on the second day of the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra. He admitted batting was difficult in the seamer-friendly track, and attributed his run-making to his approach of playing the ball of its merit.

Shreyas Iyer hit 15 fours and two sixes in his attacking knock of 117 on a seamer-friendly track.   -  Prashant Nakwe

Ever since he marked his first-class debut with a second-innings hundred against Jammu & Kashmir in the season-opener of the previous Ranji Trophy season, Shreyas Iyer’s stock has been rising rapidly in domestic cricket. The Mumbai youngster took it a notch higher with a breezy 117 that stamped his class in the final against Saurashtra on Thursday.

>This is how an intriguing second day folded in Pune.

That Iyer will end as the season’s highest run-getter was a certainty even before the start of the finale. But during his 228-minute stay, the stylish batsman ensured he rose from fifth to second in the list of most run-scorers in a Ranji season while tearing apart an all-pace Saurashtra attack.

More than the records he shattered, what made the knock special for Iyer was the fact that it came in a big match, that too on a track conducive for pace bowling, with consistent movement and bounce all through the day.

“It was tough to bat on this wicket. The ball was seaming right from the start. I decided to play on merit, and fortunately I was able to score well right from the start,” Iyer said, adding that his tendency to back his instincts is his forte.

No change in approach

“I back my instinct, that’s a good thing about me. Playing the new ball was tough, so I think we have a good total. Another 60-odd runs would be good for us.”

Iyer also equalled the record for most 50-plus scores in a season. That he had been able to convert just three of the ten such innings into centuries wasn’t an impressive record, especially for a No. 3 batsman. Iyer was satisfied to have raised a three-figure score in his maiden Ranji final.

“As a No. 3, you have the responsibility of taking the team forward. It’s a good feeling to get a century in a pressure game like the final,” he said. “I was thinking [about missing few 100s that were there for the taking], but today I decided as I approached the 80s and 90s that I will play the same way like I did till that point. I didn’t want to change my approach.”

If he continues to fire with the same approach, he will have every reason to push his case to the three national selectors who were in attendance – Sandeep Patil, Saba Karim and Vikram Rathour – for a national call-up before their term expires in September.