Venkatesh Iyer has made quite an impression with his all-round show in the just concluded T20I series between India and West Indies. Iyer scored 92 runs while batting at the no. 6 spot and took two wickets as well.
The 27-year-old is now leading the race to become first-choice allrounder even ahead of Hardik Pandya, reckons former India cricketer Wasim Jaffer.
“At this point of time, I feel he’s a little bit ahead because you don’t know Hardik Pandya whether he’s bowling now or how fit he is. Obviously how the IPL goes for Hardik Panya will play a very key role but at this point of time, Venkatesh Iyer is ahead of Hardik Pandya,” Jaffer said on ESPNcricinfo.
Jaffer was surprised by how well Iyer has adapted to the role of a finisher considering he first made waves in IPL 2021 as an opener for Kolkata Knight Riders. “I am surprised with how good he’s playing as a No. 6 batter. We have seen him as an opener but for him to come out and get adapted so well at No. 6 and finish games is outstanding. Plus, the way he’s bowled as well, got a couple of important wickets. He definitely gives [India] an edge going into the World Cup,” Jaffer said.
India have been searching for a seam bowling allrounder in the absence of Pandya who is battling fitness concerns. Iyer has made a strong case for himself in filling that vacant spot.
India head coach Rahul Dravid is pleased that Iyer has taken the challenge and gotten better.
“I know he (Iyer) plays a different role (opener) for his IPL franchise but we’re very clear with what is the kind of role that we see him filling in our situation… Obviously our top three isn’t really a spot, because these guys have established and have been performing very well in the top three,” Dravid said on Sunday.
“So we challenged him, we gave him the role to be able to bat in that position. Every time he’s improved, he’s gotten better. That’s really pleasing,” he added.