Not many are aware of Shreyas Iyer‘s short-ball weakness than England coach Brendon McCullum. It wasn’t too long ago that McCullum and Iyer worked together at KKR, where Iyer’s vulnerability towards the short-pitched ball was highlighted in the news and exposed by the bowlers. McCullum knew it first hand and he used it to plot Iyer’s dismissal during Day 4 of the rescheduled 5th India vs England Test at Birmingham.
Iyer walked out to bat at the fall of India’s first wicket in the day. As Cheteshwar Pujara slapped Stuart Broad straight to point for England’s first wicket of the day, out walked Iyer. The moment that happened the camera panned towards McCullum in the balcony, who was spotted using a couple of hand gestures, indicating England to use the short-ball tactic against Iyer.
And that is exactly how it turned out. From ball one, England targetted the ribs and chest of Iyer. At least 80 percent of the deliveries bowled to Iyer were short, and instead of ducking or blocking, Iyer decided to go after it and break the shackles. Initially, it seemed to be working as Iyer collected. His first boundary came off a top edge cut to a delivery that was bowled short and wide. Off the bowling of Matthew Potts, Iyer collected two boundaries in three balls.
As the short ball barrage continued, Iyer was really alert to anything that was pitched up, but looked far from convincing against anything that bounced. Off Potts, Iyer tucked a sharp bouncer for four, but perished the next ball trying to play the pull. Just the ball before, the fielder was placed at mid wickets, and as the ball climbed on to Iyer, he did not connect it well and failed to keep it down as James Anderson completed his 100th catch in Test matches.
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