Auckland, Nov 26 (IANS): India middle-order batter Shreyas Iyer, who top-scored with 80 off 76 balls in his side's seven-wicket defeat to New Zealand in the first ODI at Eden Park, praised his team-mate, off-spin all-rounder Washington Sundar, for his late cameo of 37 not out off 16 balls and building a late partnership to take the visitors past 300.
On Friday, Sundar came out firing on all cylinders to apply finishing touches for India by smacking three fours and as many sixes in his unbeaten blitz to take India to 307/6. He also shared a vital 46-run stand off 22 balls with Iyer as 96 runs came off the last 10 overs for the visitors.
"When we got to 300, we were like we're over the par score, especially with the way the wicket was playing. it was holding a bit, it was seaming and it was still happening in the 30th and 40th over. I felt like I wasn't set until we got to 40-50."
"We got to 307, thanks to Washy and the way he played. He played an amazing cameo and he came in and built that partnership for us, it was crucial in that phase for us. I felt like it an over par score," said Iyer to Prime Video after the match ended.
There was a scare of Iyer falling for a low total when he was beaten in defence off Adam Milne in the 27th over and was saved by umpire's call on lbw. Milne had another chance of sending Iyer back to the pavilion for 11 when he failed to get any elevation on an attempted ramp shot on a short ball and was dropped by Tom Latham in the 31st over.
As the innings grew, Iyer was able to shake off scratchy start and short-ball troubles to press the accelerator with his trademark slash, loft and pull off the front foot, to get his fifty and carry India to a huge score which wasn't enough in the end.
Talking about his own innings, Iyer remarked, "One of those days where the stars align and the shots that you play tend to go around the gap to where you want them to go. I guess I was trying to get in the strike positions and react to the balls being bowled."
"To be honest, I love to play the situation. I saw 2 wickets go in front of me and Sanju, I knew he would take his time. He gave me a chance to score runs and we played in the last series together in all 3 games, so I know what mindset he possesses and it was definitely crucial for us."
"After that, it gave Washy the momentum to come in and take over the bowlers. I personally feel that phase in between was crucial for me and I played the bowlers well. I love to play the situation."
Iyer praised left-handed batter Tom Latham for his match-winning unbeaten 145 and mentioned about discomfort while fielding as New Zealand chased down the total with 17 balls to spare.
"My back was aching a bit standing for so long and not getting wickets. Makes you dejected for a while but we were in the game until he took over in that particular over and he got 20-odd runs in that. I think that caused the momentum shift and definitely the shots that he played in that phase were pleasing to the eye and a fantastic innings by Tom."
Iyer signed off by saying playing in bizarre dimensions of Eden Park, where behind the square boundaries are short and straight boundaries are long, weren't playing on his mind.
"It doesn't to be honest, because when you look at the front and the spinner when he is bowling, when Santner was bowling, he was just bowling outside off and didn't want me to target straight because that was on my mind."
"Even when I was targeting their fast bowler, I was trying to hit them straight because the ball was holding a bit and I wasn't able to take on the right shots. It wasn't helping me that much but nonetheless, it's a great learning and I feel many more opportunities in the future. When you play in Bombay Police Gymkhana, you definitely get the same angles and squares."