Shreyas Iyer – the captain!

The 23-year-old India A skipper points out the positives of being a captain and the takeaways from the two-match Test series against South Africa A.

Shreyas Iyer en route his half-century against South Africa A at the Platinum Oval in Alur on Monday.   -  G. P. Sampath Kumar

When a cricketer, in his nascent days, embraces captaincy to up the performance, he is clearly a personality in the making. “Whenever I get this role, my character and attitude totally change towards the game,” said India A and Mumbai batsman Shreyas Iyer after the second Test against South Africa A ended in a draw at the Platinum Oval here on Monday.

Iyer knows how to make use of the opportunities.

Three years ago, on the back of a strong show in domestic cricket, he earned an IPL call-up for Delhi Daredevils. He struck four fifties in his debut season. Two seasons later, he was named captain.

Last year, Iyer smashed 317 runs for India A against New Zealand A, including a highest score of 108. This season, he is the captain.

Iyer thrives on the leadership drive. “Whenever the pressure comes, I see to it so that I get the best out of myself. Captaincy totally changes your approach,” he added.

He is only 23, but highly respected for his work ethics and leadership abilities. “I really love it. You have that power to do whatever you want on the field. When you give opportunities to players to do something, they really appreciate it. You should not misuse power but use it precisely. I have been doing that well,” said Iyer, adding, “When you are leading a side, you get a lot of respect outside as well. But you have to respect everyone too. It is good to see when people come and talk to you.”

Being in the A grind for long, Iyer understands the mindset of his players. “It is really important to get some practice before entering the main team. It is tough to be patient. When you perform consistently and you don’t get into the team, it runs into your mind. It happened to me two years ago. It is important to balance it out.

“When you go upstage, you face good bowlers. The performances keep fluctuating every time as you are not constant in one place. It is important to keep your mind in one direction,” he said.

Iyer also praised his bowlers for showing character in the two-match series. There were a lot of takeaways. The competition from South Africa is perhaps the biggest of them all.

“Every time we play South Africa, they really come hard at us. They are a competitive team, but the attitude and character we showed in the first match is commendable. I would like to thank the bowlers. They showed discipline,” he added.

After getting out twice in the 40s in the A tour of England, Iyer finally scored a half-century, albeit on a rain-hit Day 4. The 65 off 103 deliveries also included four sixes. “When they came hard, I also tried to go hard at them. If someone puts me under pressure, it brings the best out of me. I think there is nothing wrong in my game. I have to focus on the 30s and the 60s.”

That’s the confidence with which a leader should operate in a raw set-up.