It was only a few days ago when a slightly miffed Shreyas Iyer had messaged a reporter early in the morning to bring his attention to a picture that had appeared in the newspaper. The caption had his name in it, but the picture itself had Suryakumar Yadav playing a shot. Iyer of course didn’t make a big deal of it. But such is the manner in which Mumbai’s rising star has been batting this season, he can be rest assured that no desk-hand will ever get his picture wrong again. Certainly not in this Friday’s edition anyway, after Iyer smashed his second scintillating century in three weeks.
His unbeaten 167, scored at a customarily brisk pace as a strike-rate of 94.88 would suggest, ensured that he’s fast transforming from the boy-to-watch-out-for phase into a genuine India material. It also helped Mumbai finish on a strong position at the end of Day One against Baroda, with their score reading 317/3 at the Reliance Stadium. And despite Yadav’s comparatively defiant 66 not out, it was Iyer who dominated proceedings for Mumbai, and not for the first time this season.
By now, the right-hander has already showcased his immense ability to play strokes all around the dial. But on Thursday in Baroda, he produced a knock that showed his growing maturity. It was obviously filled with a lot of audacious strikes and an adventurous streak that doesn’t deter him from taking the aerial route repeatedly. Iyer though also displayed other facets, like his composure and his tenacity to hang in for a big knock, like he proved at the Wankhede Stadium against Punjab, and again on this occasion.
Iyer’s innings was highlighted by four sixes, three of which came before he reached three-figures. But after each six, Iyer’s next scoring shot was a single, showing how he wasn’t getting carried away. Soon, the Baroda seamers attempted testing Iyer’s temperament against the short-ball by peppering him with a few. Iyer, however, never got tempted into playing a hook and was content on letting them go through to the wicket-keeper.
He also received a reprieve when on 72, Baroda wicket-keeper Pinal Shah dived to his right and let slip a difficult catching opportunity. But Iyer was hardly fazed by it, and continued in his merry way. And once more he displayed how he doesn’t believe in the ‘nervous nineties’ as Iyer jumped out of his crease on 93 and smashed left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh over long-on for a six .Next ball, he took a single to raise his bat for the umpteenth time this season.
And he also spoke a good game once the day’s play was done, insisting that to get into the hunt for a India place he needed more than just a century; he needed big scores.
If Iyer was all timing and intent throughout his innings, Yadav was playing an uncharacteristic hand at the other end. Patience seemed to be the one virtue he was most keen on displaying, and seemed very keen on spending time in the middle. He faced 140 balls for his 66, preferring to play second fiddle to Iyer.
Yadav’s sedate knock wasn’t the only surprise Mumbai threw up at the Reliance Stadium. They opened the batting with their premier fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni, who despite his decent ability with the bat is still very much a tail-ender. His stay lasted for 32 balls but though he made only 3, he had seen off the new-ball. Shrideep Mangela didn’t last for too long either but Akhil Herwadkar held fort for a solid 67 to set up the foundation for the Iyer-Yadav show to hold court.
Brief Scores: Mumbai 317/3 in 86 overs (Shreyas Iyer 167 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 66 not out; Hardik Pandya 1-31).