Virat Kohli said Shreyas Iyer's performances reminded him of his early days
Lavish in his praise of Shreyas Iyer who essayed a key role in India's ODI series win against West Indies, Virat Kohli said the middle-order batsman's performances reminded him of his early days with the Indian team when he was eagerly awaiting opportunities to perform for the country. The Iyer-Kohli combo worked well for India in their victories in the second and third ODI that helped them clinch the series, and the captain felt the 24-year-old middle-order batsman wasn't intimidated by his presence at the crease, and played with a lot of confidence, which is a positive sign for his team.
"Shreyas has come along really well, he's just stepped in and played with a lot of confidence and I think that augurs really well for the team. He's presented a strong case for himself to be a strong contender and a regular feature in the middle order if he keeps continuing to play like that and take responsibility in that manner," Kohli said after India's six-wicket victory in the third ODI. "Both times he was batting with me, I had been around for a while but he wasn't intimidated at all, he was very confident, very sure of his game. That's great to see and hopefully, as I said, he builds on to this and keeps performing like this for the team."
While Kohli's presence at the crease eased the pressure for India in both ODIs - they were 101 for 3 in the second game looking to set a target and were 92 for 3 chasing a stiff target in the third game - Iyer's handling of the situations was something that impressed Kohli as the Mumbai batsman forged strong partnerships with his skipper and did not let pressure get the better of him.
"He understood the value of performing in these situations and it will only boost his confidence further," said Kohli. "I was exactly the same when I came in, any opportunity I got I wanted to win games for my team and play according to the situation. You have to take risks - he was brave under pressure - you need to reveal your game, you need to realise who you are, what your game is, what kind of player you are. I think he's heading in the right direction."
With two successive hundreds, Kohli has been at the forefront of India's victories in the last two games. Speaking about his knocks, he said it was his responsibility as part of the top three to guide India's batting and get a big score.
"I had been around for a while, so experience counts in pressure situations, understanding where the game is heading and what I need to do in terms of the tempo of the game. You obviously want to take a lot of pride for stepping up for the team as much as you can, I definitely take a lot of pride in that. So yeah, two good games with the bat for me but more importantly we got the result because of my contribution as well, that always feels much, much better.
"And eventually that's all that matters, when you cross the line and win games. Today we were under a bit of pressure but Shreyas, the way he played, took all the pressure off me and I could just play with my usual tempo, control the game from one end. It's always a collective team effort and that's why we want to always perform as a team.
As I said last game and this game, Shikhar and Rohit have been brilliant performers for us, one of them usually gets a big score but if they don't then it's my responsibility in the top three to get a big score. That's how we have played and that's why we've been so successful - 75% win ratio over the last three-four years. We have a good template that we follow as a team," Kohli said.