Shreyas Iyer has got big shoes to fill following the axing of Test specialists Cheteshwar Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane and the youngster grabbed the opportunity with both hands, stated India captain Rohit Sharma after they completed a 2-0 series sweep against Sri Lanka on Monday in Bengaluru.
Having won the first Test in Mohali by an innings, India won the second game as well by 238 runs inside three days at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Monday. Iyer, who replaced Rahane in the eleven, scored a fine 92 and 67 in a low-scoring game. Hanuma Vihari replaced Pujara at number three.
Other star performers of the series were Rishabh Pant, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin. Rohit said he is mighty pleased with what they brought to the table. “It's been a good run, and I have enjoyed it personally and as a team. We wanted to achieve a few things as a team, and we have done that,” said Rohit after his first Test series win as India’s full-time captain.
“Shreyas just carried on from where he left off in the T20 series against Sri Lanka. He seemed to carry that form into the Test series. He knew he was stepping into the big shoes of guys like Rahane and Pujara, but he has everything that he requires. He will be better now when he starts travelling,” Rohit said.
Ravindra Jadeja established himself as India’s premier all-rounder with a 175 not out and nine wickets in the Mohali Test. In the second game, the Saurashtra player managed just 26 runs and a wicket.
Speaking on Jadeja, Rohit said, “We have seen Jadeja grow as a batter, and he seems to get better and better. He strengthens the team, and he’s also improving as a bowler. And he’s a gun fielder, so he is a complete package.”
Ashwin became the first bowler to take 100 wickets in the World Test Championship and Rohit said the seasoned performer has delivered every time the ball has been thrown at him. “It was personally my feeling (that he is an all-time great). Whenever we give him the ball, he comes up with match-winning performances.
“He's got a lot of years left in him. We have lots of occasions to look forward to. I have to ensure he’s in a good mind space. Pink-ball Tests are challenging. We never knew what it was like to play with the pink ball in India, but we are learning to make those adjustments.
“The crowd just makes it more special,” said Rohit. In the series, where Sri Lanka were completely outplayed, visiting skipper’s fighting 107 on Monday will be one of the few positives that the Island nation would take back home.
“I would have been happier if we had won the match. Once I got in, I knew I could get a big one. As a team, we know we are a decent team. We didn't get enough good starts to capitalise. And as a bowling unit, we gave too many loose balls,” Karunaratne said.
The second Test was Sri Lanka pacer Suranga Lakmal’s last in international cricket. Lakmal finished with 171 wickets from 70 Test matches. “(On Suranga Lakmal) One of the best I have see in my career. I am very happy for him that he's going to county cricket and I know he will do very well there as well,” Karunaratne said.