In the second session, although the Lankans claimed six wickets, they conceded 159 runs and the man who piloted that charge was Iyer with his 98-ball 92. The Lankans paid the price for dropping the batsman, who put up a grand show of will and strokes. While runs flowed from Iyer’s bat, what was impressive was the composure and confidence with which he built his innings.
Having seen his teammates lose their wickets while defending and a close cordon in place, Iyer revealed that the plan was to nullify the spin.
“My plan was obviously to cut down the spin. So, I wanted to step out. The plan was to cover the spin and play it to mid-wicket and get a single because that area was free. I was very confident doing that. When you step out, you also play with the mind of the bowler and spoil his line and length. That’s what I tried to do,” he said.
But the beginning was challenging. “The first five balls I played were really difficult. I think it was the second last over before tea (when I came in to bat). I was very nervous. I just wanted to somehow play those two overs and after that I knew what I was going to do. The coach and captain were very supportive and I am happy about it,” he explained.
Being a domestic stalwart helped Iyer because Ranji Trophy grind prepares a batsman for challenges on various pitches. “Playing domestic cricket, Ranji Trophy for Mumbai, was really helpful and these kinds of wickets remind me of those. I followed the thought process that I would in the Ranji Trophy. I never thought I would get out. Of course, some balls were bouncing, keeping low and turning. But my main focus was to cut down the spin,” Iyer revealed.
Iyer missed out on what would have been a deserving century, his second in a fledgling Test career.
But the team man that he is, Iyer pointed out, “It is disappointing to miss out on a hundred, but by the end of it the team had got to a fighting total. So, I have no regrets. I play for the team.”
That’s STUMPS on Day 1 of the 2nd Test.Sri Lanka 86/6, trail #TeamIndia (252) by 166 runs.Scorecard -… https://t.co/EJx5qK9K2y
— BCCI (@BCCI) 1647100305000
Iyer’s half-century celebration was both animated and showed huge signs of relief. “Actually the 50 was like a century. That’s why I celebrated like that,” he added.
On the dodgy pitch, Iyer commented, “Since we are part of the World Test Championship, we are looking to win every match but on such pitches it’s not possible. However, playing on such pitches is challenging.”