Even before he played domestic cricket, Shreyas Iyer enjoyed the reputation of being a talent to look out for in coming years. Most local pundits on maidaans saw a spark in him and were impressed with the way he timed the ball.
On Thursday, even though the match tapered towards a tame draw against Madhya Pradesh with the visitors taking first innings lead and three points, it was Iyer’s s consecutive hundred with an unbeaten 142 that stood out. He wasn’t the only one to return happy to the dressing room. There was 17 year-old Sarfaraz Khan as well who scored an unbeaten 52. Mumbai, which couldn’t max their home advantage, will latch onto these two positives in the ten-day gap until their next away tie.
Iyer has raised his bar since being promoted from junior to senior cricket. He had a disappointing first-class debut where he scored 7 and 1 against J&K and later 11 against Railways. But the middle-order bat soon picked up his scoring graph.
In Kanpur, where UP’s pacers were running riot on a seamer-friendly wicket, Iyer countered them by playing aggressive. While his team-mates opted for a defensive approach he went after UP bowlers trying to score more with boundaries. Iyer had made 75 off 78 balls which had 11 fours in it. Against Bengal he slammed 153 at a fast clip.
He might have gotten out cheaply in first innings against MP but Iyer came back strongly in second innings. After MP put up a mountain score of 538 runs and secured a 134 run lead, the visitors had targeted an outright win. But Iyer was defiant denying MP bowlers even a sniff at a win. The 20-year-old had partnerships with opener Aditya Tare, Siddhesh Lad and Khan to ensure Mumbai took home at least one point.
Amre, who rates Iyer highly, says, one can see something different when he bats. A spark that defines those who have gone onto play at the highest levels. “Iyer’s hundred and Sarfaraz Khan’s fifty are the two positives from this game,” says Amre.
Interestingly, Mumbai didn’t call off the game at end of mandatory overs, and waited for Khan’s first big score. Once he achieved that, both sides decided to call it off.
Unlike Iyer who likes constructing innings patiently, Khan has a different theory to facing bowlers. He keeps himself busy most times and one can see him playing various unorthodox shots more often seen in the shorter format. For a boy, who has been making headlines in local cricket for quite a while now, Khan certainly has a point to prove in seniors. He has the potential but Khan will have to check his strokes against quality sides. When he walked in to bat, Mumbai had been cruising before Siddhesh Lad was caught at short fine-leg while playing a sweep. Khan took time to adjust but soon he charged Jalaj Saxena for a six to long-on. Later, he struck four fours and one more six to remain unbeaten in the final session of days’ play, giving Mumbai a silver lining to their dull outing at home.
Brief scores: Mumbai 404 (Suryakumar Yadav 135, Akhil Herwadkar 97, S Lad 73, Yohesh Rawat 5-74) & 311/4 (S Iyer 142*, A Tare 57, S Khan 52*) drew with MP 538 for 7 decl.
POINTS: Mumbai 1; MP 3