Shreyas Iyer sees Australia's short-ball strategy against him as an opportunity to score runs. In the first two ODIs, Iyer has walked in against fast bowlers who have, on both occasions, bowled to him with a short leg and leg gully catching and a clear plan to bowl rising deliveries at his body. Both times, he has been dismissed - one off a steep bouncer and the second a slower one. But Iyer said this plan plays into his attack, even suggesting it was a bit of an honour that Australia were plotting against him.
"I definitely know that they've planned against me," he said, "so I'm really happy. At least they're coming up with a plan against me to get me out. I feel very overwhelmed and take it as a challenge because, you see, I thrive under pressure. And also, it really motivates to go against them. They set attacking fields which really helps me to score runs, so I take advantage of that and I see to it that I make the best use of it."
Iyer made 38 at just over run-a-ball in the second ODI, having come in during the ninth over with a plan that seemed to be centred on getting inside the line of the short bowling and hitting through the off side. Without being too convincing, he did get deeper into the innings and take on spinners Adam Zampa and Glenn Maxwell in the middle overs. This hadn't been the case during the first ODI, when Iyer was caught awkwardly between two or three options off the second ball of his innings.
"I knew the short ball was going to come so I was in two minds," Iyer said of that dismissal. "I was thinking of pulling and at the same time I have the upper cut. I got stuck in between two shots and I couldn't play the shot. So maybe that's the reason I got stuck in one place; and the ball came and hit the middle of the bat even that time.
"In the second match, I was just like - look at the ball and react. It's very easy to do that, rather than think what the bowler is bowling. You can actually predict, once you are set, what the bowler is going to bowl, so I usually give myself time at the start and that's what I applied in the second match and it really worked out well."
We're working on some routines and processes which haven't gone well for us in the last few games. And I'm sure it's just the transition phase from T20 to one-dayers - it's really difficult, especially for the bowlers coming in and bowling ten overs on the trot
Shreyas Iyer on the Indian bowling attack
Iyer is on his first consistent run with the Indian side after debuting in 2017, and has impressed in the No. 4 role that was given to him after last year's World Cup. Including his scores this series, Iyer has got a 50-plus score every two innings in his 20 ODIs so far, only nine of which have been played at home. As such, he said, this test of his technique was not something that would compel him to make too many tweaks mid-tour.
"I feel that it's just the mindset which you need to adjust," he said. "[I've] been playing for so many years… obviously it's my first time playing in Australia and on these wickets. We all know that the wickets are bouncy and the bowlers are only going to bowl to you in the body area and the short balls are going to come to you.
"Rather than bending down too much, it's really important that you stand upright and play the ball, so that it's easy to pick the short ones as well. I've set my patterns right from the start. Every time I play, I give myself a bit of time, get set, and then take on the bowlers. And if they come up with that field, it's really important that I get aggressive as well because with that [field set], it's really easy to manipulate the field."
A more immediate factor contributing to the rustiness, Iyer said, were the conditions. Acclimatising to Australia, having come from the UAE, and then practicing on pitches that he called "completely different" from the ones in the two games so far, have all contributed to the challenge for batsmen. And for the bowlers too.
"If you see the amount of workload they've gone through in the IPL - playing 14 games - and after that they've come here and stayed in quarantine - definitely it plays on your mind. And it plays with every individual in the team, it's not just the bowlers," he said. "We're working on some routines and processes which haven't gone well for us in the last few games. And I'm sure it's just the transition phase from T20 to one-dayers - it's really difficult, especially for the bowlers coming in and bowling ten overs on the trot.
"And also fielding for 50 overs. So it's not at all easy from their point of view. There are many more matches coming ahead and I'm sure they'll come back really strong and with a positive frame of mind."