Ahead of featuring in his second Indian Premier League (IPL 2024) final as captain, out-of-favour India batter Shreyas Iyer, who was dropped from BCCI’s annual contracts list in February, admitted that he was struggling with injury following the ODI World Cup in November last year, but no one took heed of his concerns.

“I was definitely struggling after the World Cup in the longer format. When I raised my concerns, no one agreed… But the competition is with myself. When IPL was approaching, all I wanted was to see to it that I put my best foot forward,” he said on the eve of Kolkata Knight Riders’ summit clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad in Chennai.

Iyer last featured for India in the five-match Test series against England earlier this year but was released after the first two games, in which he could only score 104 runs in four innings. He had reportedly also complained of back spasms during the series.

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The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) then terminated his national contract, after he missed Mumbai’s Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Baroda, for seemingly flouting BCCI’s diktat of not prioritising the IPL over domestic cricket.

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However, after regaining his fitness at Kolkata Knight Riders’ camp in Mumbai, Iyer returned for the Ranji Trophy semifinal and final and scored 95 in Mumbai’s second innings in the summit clash against Vidarbha in mid-March.

Describing the last couple of months after finding himself on the wrong side of the Board, the KKR skipper said, “It has been fantastic. We won the final. I was part of the team and I also contributed to the final. I stayed in the present and didn’t think about what was going to happen to me in terms of selection. I just wanted to come and participate and see to it that I play to the best of my abilities.

“The transformation from red-ball cricket to white-ball is difficult as a batsman and as a bowler. It was difficult at the start but once you get used to it, you pick up the pace and match the other players,” he said.

The 29-year-old, along with captaining KKR to its fourth IPL final, has enjoyed a fruitful run with the bat, scoring 345 runs at a strike rate of 146.18, his highest in a single season since his debut in 2015. He also struck a scorching 24-ball unbeaten 58 in Qualifier 1 against Sunrisers on Tuesday to pave the way for his team’s smooth entry into the final.

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Iyer has also benefitted from having two-time IPL-winning captain Gautam Gambhir by his side as a ‘mentor’ during KKR’s run to the summit clash.

“Gautam bhai has immense knowledge about how the game is played. He has won two titles with KKR and his strategies have been spot on. He adds a lot of cream to the team and hopefully we keep continuing with the same momentum,” Iyer added.

Though Iyer missed out on India’s squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup in the USA and West Indies, he will have a point to prove on Sunday and exorcise the ghosts of his previous experience of an IPL final, when he lost to Mumbai Indians as Delhi Capitals skipper in 2020.