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IPL 2024: Shreyas Iyer ready for big season, says he has ticked all boxes

The KKR captain wants to be in the present as much as possible as he returns after missing last year’s IPL

“I’m looking forward to winning the IPL. If you would ask any captain, they would have the same mentality. And that’s why you have to be in the present as much as possible.”

Kolkata Knight Riders player Shreyas Iyer during a training session ahead of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 cricket tournament, at Eden Gardens in Kolkata, Tuesday, March 19(PTI)

Any other IPL captain saying this would have felt par for the course. But this is Shreyas Iyer, whose present is far removed from all other IPL captains. Dropped from the BCCI’s central contracts amid a swift build-up of cynical opinion over a reported recurrence of a back niggle from the time he last played for India — in the Visakhapatnam Test last month — till now, Iyer knows his future can’t be more uncertain.

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“If you dwell too much either on past or future, I personally feel that you make a lot of mistakes,” said Iyer ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders’ first match against Sunrisers Hyderabad here. “So, that’s what I’ve learned over a period of time, that whatever is in your hand, you have to make the best use of it.

“The decision-making outside of it is not in your hand, and the more you dwell on that, the more mistakes you would be indulging in. So, I just want to keep doing my work and see to it that I do it right. And if I even do it wrong, I want to learn from it and see to it that I don’t repeat it again.”

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Not thinking about the uncontrollables is one way of dealing with an unpopular narrative. The one thing Iyer can control though is how KKR fares in this IPL. Last year, KKR barely managed to make up for the void left by Iyer in the wake of a back surgery. This time, he is very much at the forefront of their batting hopes after the management forked out a record ₹24.75 crore for Mitchell Starc.

Another massive difference from the KKR set-up last year is Gautam Gambhir joining as mentor, something Iyer believes will help his captaincy. “He brings a lot of input. Strategically strong, having won two IPLs. Knows a lot about the venue and the opposition teams. I have worked with him previously in a different franchise (Delhi) and I know what his mindset is. He is a fearless guy and he gives you a lot of freedom as a captain and also as a player.”

Iyer’s personal preparation too has been elaborate. “I have ticked the boxes in every way possible so I am in high spirits. I’ve been doing my training regularly, I’ve been hitting the balls, and I’ve been batting for longer periods of time. So, that is something I’m thriving on,” said Iyer. “Right now, if I look at myself, I feel that I’m in the best shape possible. I played so many years in the IPL so it’s not that I am completely distant from it. Personally, my preparation has been top-notch.”

There is no doubt Iyer’s confidence doesn’t ride entirely comfortably with this strange, uncertain and potentially pivotal moment in his international career where he may not even be in contention for the side slated to be picked for the T20 World Cup in June. That itself is quite a drastic slide from last year, when Iyer’s rehabilitation was deemed crucial to India’s middle-order solidity in the ODI World Cup. He came through gloriously, peaking with a scintillating 105 against New Zealand in a one-sided semi-final at the Wankhede. But it seems so distant in memory now that a mere good personal show at the IPL may not be enough.

Not to mention how there remain reservations about Iyer’s fitness, especially in the light of reports of how the NCA has apparently allowed him to play in the IPL only if he is careful while batting on the front foot. But Iyer has been categorical about not letting any of that deter him from doing whatever it takes to stamp his presence.

“I don’t want to think about what the doctor has said, what the injury was because, as I mentioned previously, when you overthink, put your focus on the injury, and in that moment, forget about what you’re doing the best,” said Iyer. “So, I want to put all these things aside and focus on what’s there for me on the plate.”


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