The men's T20 World Cup is still about eight months away, but India already faces a problem of plenty. For now, its concerns revolve around the No.3 slot.
With Virat Kohli rested for the just concluded T20I series against Sri Lanka and Suryakumar Yadav ruled out due to an injury, Shreyas Iyer moved up to No. 3 and made the most of the opportunity.
He struck three half-centuries on the trot, taking his run tally to 204 in three games, at a strike rate of 174, which earned him the Player of the Series award. While Shreyas knows the road ahead won’t be easy, No.3 is his preferred batting position as it helps him plan the innings better. “When you play the T20 format, if you bat in the top three, then that’s the only place you can pace the innings,” Shreyas said on Sunday, after guiding his team to a clean sweep against Sri Lanka.
“If you bat after that, you can't give yourself time because you need to go from ball one. If I had to say the best number for me to bat, it's obviously No. 3…”
Following India's early exit from last year's T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, captain Rohit Sharma and head coach Rahul Dravid want to form a core group, which will play a leadership role and ensure the planning is foolproof. Hence, they tested the bench strength in the just-concluded T20s against Sri Lanka. Shreyas, Sanju Samson and Deepak Hooda were given opportunities and they proved their mettle.
“Coming not out in all three games was a commendable performance for me. But if you see the competition in our team, it's immense. Every individual is capable of winning you games. For me, I want to enjoy every opportunity I've been provided with. I like to finish off the games - that's my mindset when I go onto the field,” Shreyas said.
After the series win, Rohit too emphasised that picking the right combination will be a challenge with several players competing for similar slots. “But it is always nice to have guys in form (whom to pick),” Rohit said. “We want to understand the kind of bench strength we have. It is good to give opportunities to those guys and important to tell them not to worry about their positions in the team. We want to fill whatever gaps we have, and keeping that in mind, we want to move forward,” the India captain said in the post-match presentation."
Since taking charge, both Dravid and Rohit have made role clarity and communication their priorities. With multiple options at their disposal, the think tank wants to give everyone a fair chance before zeroing in on the core. And after a fascinating show against Sri Lanka, Shreyas emerges as a leading contender for the No. 3 spot in T20Is.
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