Former skipper Sunil Gavaskar believes Shreyas Iyer is better suited for the number four spot in ODIs than Rishabh Pant and should be given a permanent slot in the Indian middle-order.
Coming into the team after a year, Iyer, who has a couple of fifties in the five ODIs that he has played, hit a 68-ball 71 to play a crucial role in India’s 59-run win over the West Indies in the second ODI at Port-of-Spain on Sunday.
Iyer is a contender for the still vacant number four spot even though the Indian team management has been backing young wicketkeeper-batsman Pant to seal the position in the 50-overs format.
“In my view, Rishabh Pant is much better like an MS Dhoni at 5 for 6 as a finisher because that’s where his natural game and natural flair will come into play," Sunil Gavaskar told ‘Sony Ten’ channel.
“If India get to a great start with Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma batting for 40-45 overs, then Pant at No. 4. But if it’s a question of batting for 30-35 overs, then I think it should be Shreyas Iyer at No. 4 and Pant at No. 5."
At the Queen’s Park Oval, Iyer added 125 runs with skipper Virat Kohli (120) after India lost the wickets of Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant (20) in quick succession.
His innings helped India post a competitive 279 for 7 against West Indies.
The 24-year-old from Delhi didn’t get game time during the T20 series. He was part of the playing XI in the first ODI, which was washed out after 13 overs at Guyana.
Heaping praise on Iyer, Gavaskar said: “He has grabbed his opportunity. He came at No. 5. He had plenty of overs. He had the company of his skipper, Virat Kohli. Nothing quite like it because the skipper takes the pressure off you.
“The best place to learn in cricket is the non-striker’s end. That’s what Shreyas Iyer was doing with Virat Kohli at the other end," he added.
Iyer, the Delhi Capitals skipper, was in good form during the Indian Premier League but he was ignored for the World Cup and Gavaskar believes the youngster should now get a longer run in ODI cricket.
“I think, if this doesn’t help him get a more permanent slot in the Indian middle-order, I don’t know what will," Gavaskar said.
“In the five matches, he played before this, he scored 2 fifties and hit a highest score of 88. He hadn’t done anything wrong to be left out of the 14 (15) (World Cup). But that’s in the past.
“Now he has come back and scored a 71 in his first opportunity. So I think he will get a longer run."