IPL 2023: Iyer recalls Baz’s pep talk on a century target
Venkatesh Iyer recalled a conversation with 'Baz' during the 2021 season which spurred him on to score 104 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede
Venkatesh Iyer, the tall Kolkata Knight Riders allrounder, was the second centurion for his franchise in the 16-year history of Indian Premier League on Sunday. He is now in elite company with Brendon McCullum, the dashing New Zealander, who had served them as coach till last season.
Tuesday marked 15 years of McCullum’s blazing 158 not out (against Royal Challengers Bangalore) in the opening match of IPL in 2008, which is regarded as a pathbreaking innings in T20 franchise cricket. Iyer recalled a conversation with Baz during the 2021 season which spurred him on to score 104 against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede.
Speaking to KKR media, Iyer said: ‘’I remember having a conversation with Baz when I told him that I wanted to be the second batter to score a century for the KKR. He egged me on to say that I can score two for them.
‘’Yes, I always wanted to score a T20 hundred, but then I would have been happier if we finished on the winning side,’’ said the 28-year-old articulate cricketer.
Iyer’s was the second ton of 2023 IPL season after England’s Harry Brook raked up the first one for Sunrisers Hyderabad – against KKR only – at the Eden Gardens last week. Asked if he suffered from any Nervous Nineties syndrome, Iyer said: ‘’In T20 cricket, there are no room for personal milestones. In any case, the scoreboard was not working when I was in my nineties and hence did not know how much exactly I was batting on.’’
It had been a kind of roller coaster ride for Iyer in top flight in the last three seasons. After emerging as a late-bloomer of sorts in the second phase of 2021 IPL in the UAE, he made the Indian team on the back of his performance before an injury laid him low.
‘’Last year, it’s been kind of adventure for me. In an athlete’s career there will be phases when you are not scoring enough runs or taking wickets, but to be able to play the game again that I have love the most makes me smile,’’ said Iyer, referring to a freakish ankle injury which he sustained six months back.
‘’The experience has helped me evolve as a person,’’ said Iyer, who has played nine T20s and two ODIs for India.
Come Thursday, Knights will look to shrug off two demoralising defeats in a row as they take on an off-colour Delhi Capitals at the Kotla.