India vs New Zealand: It's a fairytale for Shreyas Iyer

The India batter says he wasn’t fazed by the challenge of playing red-ball cricket after nearly three years. 

Shreyas Iyer celebrates his maiden Test ton.   -  SPORTZPICS

Shreyas Iyer labelled his inclusion in the first Test and his debut century on Day Two as a “fairytale.”

After playing only white-ball cricket since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mumbai batter had to quickly shift his mindset to suit the requirements of Test cricket. He did it well, playing to the merit of the ball but also taking his chances as is his wont to become only the 16th Indian batter to score a ton on debut.

“When I came to Kanpur, I didn’t know that I was going to play,” Shreyas revealed after the second day’s play.

“Rahul [Dravid] and the skipper, they came to me and they told me that I was going to play the match, and suddenly I had to get into this mindset of red-ball cricket. The last match I played was almost three years back which was Irani Trophy,” he said.

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“But I took this as an opportunity and as a challenge as well, because once you play white-ball cricket for so long and then get back to red-ball cricket, it’s a different ball game, so the mindset has to be set and the routine has to be on point. And that’s what I focused on rather than thinking about how I’m going to play and whom I’m going to face on the ground.”

Shreyas wasn’t worried about whether or not he would keep his spot in the team once the rested players come back, and when he would get to play again.

“When Sunil Gavaskar gave me the cap, he told me an important point: ‘You don’t have to think about your past, you don’t have to think about your future. All you’ve got is present and you’ve got to focus on the next ball.’ That’s what I’ve been doing throughout. My aim is to think about today and not what will happen in the next game,” Shreyas said.

He was pleasantly surprised to get the cap from Gavaskar.

“I never thought I would be getting a cap from Sunil sir. I obviously thought Rahul sir would hand me the cap, but both are legends of the game and I would have been happy had anyone of the two given the cap to me. It’s a great feeling, the way everything panned out but not satisfied the way I got out,” he said.

Shreyas also revealed that ex-Mumbai coach Praveen Amre, who oversaw the blossoming of the batter from his early days in the Ranji Trophy, had asked him to treat him to dinner only if a century had been scored.

“Whenever I go for training, Praveen sir keeps on saying that ‘you’ve achieved a lot in your life, been the captain of the IPL team, scored so many runs but that was in white-ball cricket, but your main achievement would be when you receive the Test cap.’ I’m sure he would be really happy when I received it. He was like: ‘I’d only come to your place for dinner if you score a century.’ So after today, I have to message him and invite him for dinner.”

Shreyas thanked his parents, the pillars of his success.

“My dad loves red-ball cricket the most. To give him this century would be the best achievement for me and for him as well as a father. So, it’s a great feeling for both of us. My mom and dad have been supportive throughout my journey, and they have been the pillars of my success so far. And they will always be. So I’d like to thank them and my whole family who have been really supportive throughout.”

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