Dravid: Shreyas Iyer will 'walk straight into the side' if fit
"We certainly value contributions of people who've been there, and if they've missed out due to injury, they deserve the right to come back in"
Shreyas Iyer is set to return to India's side for the second Test against Australia in Delhi, which begins on Friday, if he passes his fitness assessment on the eve of the match. Iyer missed the first Test in Nagpur with a back injury, and rejoined the squad in Delhi, where he had a long stint batting in the nets on Wednesday.
India coach Rahul Dravid has said Iyer will "walk straight into the side" if he feels fine after batting on Thursday as well.
"We'll take a call after a couple of days of training," Dravid said. "He's had a long session today in terms of training today, we'll assess it tomorrow as well, once he comes in for a light hit, and see how he feels in the evening. But certainly, if he's fit and ready to go and ready to take the load of a five-day Test match, then it is without doubt that his performance means he will walk straight into the side."
Ever since scoring a century on Test debut against New Zealand in Kanpur in November 2021, Iyer has been a key middle-order batter for India especially in Asian conditions, and has been involved in several rescue jobs. Apart from his ability against spin, Dravid identified Iyer's temperament and ability to find solutions under pressure as assets he brings to India's line-up.
Dravid took the examples of the innings Iyer played in pressure situations in both innings of his Kanpur debut, and the match-winning partnership with R Ashwin in Dhaka last December, which came after India were 74 for 7 in a chase of 145. He indicated that Suryakumar Yadav, who scored 8 in India's only innings in Nagpur, where he made his debut, would probably make way for Iyer.
"Without it being written in stone and without it being a rule, we certainly value contributions of people who've been there, and if they've missed out due to injury, they deserve the right to come back in, if they've performed, irrespective of what has happened in the time that they've been injured," Dravid said.
"So yes, it's something that I can't answer for everyone, but it's certainly the outlook of the team management [in this case]. And yes, Shreyas has played well against spin, but what's really stood out has been his temperament. We've been in quite a few pressure situations with Shreyas around, right from the first Test match that he played, his debut game in Kanpur.
"We've been in some tough situations, and he and Rishabh [Pant] and [Ravindra] Jadeja, really, have been the ones who've been bailing us out and playing those critical knocks. His temperament in Bangladesh, when we were under pressure, along with Ashwin. That's something that's a really good sign, obviously along with his skill of playing spin really well.
"He's spent a lot of time in domestic cricket before getting in, so he obviously understands how to get runs, but I think at this level, also what really counts is your ability to deal with those pressure situations, that temperament, that ability to find solutions and find answers when we're under pressure, and from the little sample size that we have, he's been very good at that.
"It'll be nice to have him back, and he certainly has been one of our better players, he deserves it, and people in the team understand that as well. They know that if they are replacing someone who is injured, that person will probably come back, and the same thing will be followed for them as well - if they get injured, hopefully we'll be able to give them the same treatment as well."
Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo