Venkatesh Iyer has had a roller-coaster ride in the last two years. The left-handed middle-order batter for Madhya Pradesh excelled as an opener for Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2021 IPL and with his handy medium-pace quickly made his international debut as an all-rounder.
After being retained by KKR for 2022, he did not have the greatest of seasons in the IPL this year and was subsequently left out of the Indian side as well.
Now back with Central Zone for the Duleep Trophy semifinals, Venkatesh looks to use the upcoming domestic season to get back to basics with runs and wickets under his belt.
Though he is returning to the First Class format for the first time in more than two-and-half years, he is the only player with international credentials in his squad.
“I am excited and happy that we are starting with the red ball. It is a format I want to explore and see where it takes me,” said Venkatesh in a chat with The Sportstar.
When asked about what he looks to do in the upcoming season to get back into the national side, the all-rounder said, “I just need to keep performing and keep trusting the process. I never set targets for myself. I have had a word with my coaches with regards to what I need to do; fine-tuning my batting, bowling, and fielding including my fitness. It is not making a comeback or getting into a certain team. What I need to do is just play and just forget about the white noise.”
Explaining what went wrong in 2022 when he managed only 182 runs from 12 innings, the 27-year-old, “I felt that I was slightly harsh on myself, expecting too much. It is very easy to think about it in hindsight, but one major factor that I thought was missing was I did not enjoy it as much as I did in the second phase (in 2021).”
“I was expecting myself to score a lot of runs but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. All you have in your hand is the process so I came back to the drawing board and started working on my basics again.”
Apart from skills, Venkatesh said he is focused on putting the extra yards in terms of fitness. “If you’re doing both batting and bowling, it’s very important for you to be fit and be fitter than the others because you have to contribute in all three departments. I am not just working on my fitness but also on my diet with my nutritionist Suraj (Thakuria). I am putting in that extra hard and lifting those extra weights just to keep myself fit and strong in case I need to be the fifth bowler for the team.”
When asked about what he took away from the time spent with the national side, Venkatesh said, “Obviously, it is very important for me to keep scoring runs and keep picking wickets. That is what is important and to do that, it’s not important to be in an Indian team or an IPL team or an MP team. You just need to realise where you are with your skills and just need to keep building on that. But it was a great experience being in the Indian team. I understood that your skills need to be top-notch, and your mentality needs to be top-notch if you are there. It was amazing sharing the dressing room with modern-day greats and I understood a lot about the game.”
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