R Sridhar reveals Ravi Shastri's first reaction after Shreyas Iyer struggled against short balls

R Sridhar, the former India fielding coach, reflected upon Shreyas Iyer’s weakness against short-balls, and revealed former head coach Ravi Shastri’s earliest reaction on witnessing it.

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“Shastri saw just one ball.”

Shreyas Iyer has had a fine start to his international career across formats. However his weakness against short balls has been apparent, and has continued to surface in recent times. 

A notable moment came against England in the Edgbaston Test last month, when head coach Brendon McCullum, who had also worked alongside Iyer with the Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2022, signalled his bowlers from the dressing room to go short against Iyer on Day 1 of the game. On cue, James Anderson pitched one halfway, angling in, and Iyer edged it behind down the leg-side through to wicketkeeper Sam Billings.

R Sridhar, the former India fielding coach, stated that the weakness dates back to Iyer’s early days in international cricket, recalling former head coach Ravi Shastri’s first reactions on the shortcoming during India’s tour of South Africa in 2017/18.

"It is a very perceived weakness,” Sridhar told Cricket.com. “We all are seeing it at the highest level, and not just now. I remember an incident way back in Port Elizabeth in 2018. Shreyas Iyer had made his debut in India against Sri Lanka and quickly after that we went to South Africa for a multi-format tour. Shreyas got an opportunity to play in the 4th ODI if I am not mistaken. He went up to bat against Morne Morkel and straightaway he (Morkel) tested him out with a short ball and he fended it to third man." 

Iyer was dismissed by Lungi Ngidi (not Morkel) in both his outings in the ODI series.

Sridhar continued: "Ravi Shastri was sitting beside me… and he said ‘Sree, ye bachhe pe bahut kaam karna padega’. Shastri saw just one ball. I am sure Shreyas is working very hard with the batting coach. He has got the best coaches around probably to help him out – Rahul Dravid, Vikram Rathour. He maybe having his personal coaches in Mumbai as well, with whom he would be having a chat."

Sridhar insisted that Iyer’s weakness is more of “a mental thing” than the technical weakness, and believes that the 27-year-old will overcome it in near future.

"I think it is more of a mental thing than anything else. Iyer is super fit. He has got a good technique and the day he cracks that code of short-pitch bowling; the bowlers will have no way to bowl to him because he can hit through the line and all that stuff. It is only a matter of time before he comes out of that but for many players, their strengths are their weaknesses."