Venkatesh Iyer has an X-factor like Chris Gayle: Ajay Jadeja

Former India player Ajay Jadeja feels that Kolkata Knight Riders batter Venkatesh Iyer has the X-factor like Chris Gayle. Jadeja reckoned that just the way Gayle in his prime could play at will regardless of the match situation or conditions, Iyer shows similar traits in his batting style.

Jadeja’s comments came after Iyer’s stroke-filled 67 off 49 against Punjab Kings in a losing cause. The 27-year-old did not get even a single game in the first half of the tournament, but ever since his inclusion in the UAE leg, Iyer has provided aggressive starts at the top, breaking KKR’s conservative approach that had become a concern earlier this year.

A seam-bowling all-rounder, Iyer has also contributed with the ball, having picked three wickets in the three innings he has bowled so far, while his tally with the bat reads an impressive 193 in five matches at a brilliant average and strike rate of 48.25 and 141.91, respectively.

“[He is] free-flowing. We talked about Chris Gayle, not that I am comparing him with Gayle or saying that Iyer plays like him, but his mould is somewhat like Gayle,” Ajay Jadeja told Cricbuzz.

“Now he is 42, but in his younger days, Gayle had the X-factor in him. When he used to bat, it seemed that he can bat at will, no matter what the conditions or the pitch are. For other batters, you might say, ‘the track is slow, scoring might be difficult’, but all that did not apply to Gayle. He [Venkatesh Iyer] is just like that,” he added.

Jadeja further highlighted how getting late into the professional cricket setup has helped Iyer’s game. “He is pure; he did not enter into the cricketing system too early, so his mind is not cluttered; it’s all very clear for him. So, coming late into the cricketing setup has helped him. He is just playing with all the freedom, and you enjoy watching him bat.”

Agreeing with Jadeja’s opinion, his co-panellist Virender Sehwag went on to reckon that Indian selectors will have one eye on Iyer as far the T20 World Cup squad is concerned, given that Hardik Pandya has not been able to deliver with the ball due to his fitness concerns.