IPL 2021: Venkatesh Iyer, the management professional who became KKR opener

Kolkata Knight Riders included a fresh face in their playing XI for their first match of the second phase of Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 on Monday (September 20). The Eoin Morgan-led side gave a chance to Madhya Pradesh all-rounder Venkatesh Iyer to debut at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi against Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.

And the 26-year-old proved his worth with some superb cricketing shots. He scored 41 off 27 balls in KKR’s easy nine-wicket win.

Iyer enrolled for a B.Com degree, alongside a chartered accountancy degree. He even topped in the CA intermediate examinations in 2016, when he had a decision to make. Attempting the CA finals would mean walking away from cricket, or at least putting his career on hold.

He had already made his T20 and 50-overs debuts for the Madhya Pradesh senior team and was captain of the state’s Under-23 team by then. A first-class debut was just around the corner, and he let his instincts take over.

“I decided to give up my CA and pursue an MBA in finance,” Iyer was quoted as saying by ESPNCricinfo. “I gave a lot of entrance exams, had decent scores, and enrolled into a good college. I was fortunate the faculty liked cricket, and they saw I was doing well, and gave me the cushion by taking care of my attendance, preparing notes and rescheduling exams.”

Former Indian cricketer Irfan Pathan was left amazed with his talent. “That cover drive from young Venkatesh Iyer to Siraj #replay,” Pathan tweeted.

Whereas, cricketer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwary tweeted, “Kudos to @KKRiders on identifying the talent in Venketesh Iyer, whatever i have seen of him in domestic cricket and today in #IPL2021 if nurtured well by #bcci then he is the next fast bowling all-rounder along with Hardik for team India. Keep an eye on him guys #RCBvsKKR.”

In February this year, the opener played a scintillating innings of 198 runs against Punjab in the List A tournament Vijay Hazare Trophy. He hit 20 fours and 7 sixes. He scored 273 runs in five matches of the tournament. During this, his strike rate was 124, while the average was 55.

(with IANS inputs)

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Sagar Biswas

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