The Roar
The Roar



From chartered accountant to all-rounder: Venkatesh Iyer could be India’s X factor in the T20 World Cup

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
Roar Guru
24th February, 2022

If you asked a casual Indian cricket fan a year ago who Venkatesh Iyer is, they would probably ask if he is related to Shreyas Iyer (he is not).

Fast forward to February 2021 and Iyer is making a name for himself in his short T20I career in Indian colours.

Who is Venkatesh Iyer?

Venkatesh Iyer is a batting all-rounder who bowls medium pace. Hailing from Madhya Pradesh, Iyer has played six T20 internationals and two ODI matches for India.

Alongside playing for his state Madhya Pradesh in domestic cricket, Iyer will be playing his second consecutive season in the IPL, representing Kolkata Knight Riders.

Now 27, Iyer made his debut in professional cricket as a 20-year-old in T20 cricket for Madhya Pradesh. Listed to bat at number nine, Iyer did not bat, but figures of 1-21 off three overs with his medium pacers helped Madhya Pradesh secure a four-run victory against Railways.

By the end of 2015, Iyer had represented his state in 50-over and 20-over cricket.

While Iyer was playing List A and T20 cricket in the early parts of his career, the all-rounder was studying chartered accounting.


However, he dropped out of his degree to pursue an MBA in finance at the Institute of Management Studies, DAVV University, Indore.

By 2018, Iyer’s academic qualifications saw him land a job offer at accounting firm Deloitte’s Indian headquarters in Bengaluru.

But he rejected the job offer as he wanted to remain in Madhya Pradesh to continue his cricket career rather than relocate to another city and give up his cricket career.

That decision paid off as in December 2018, Iyer made his first-class debut, picking up one wicket. But it was in the limited-overs forms where he was slowly making an impact. That was making a few people within India start to notice Venkatesh Iyer.

But like many cricketers across the world, COVID-19 put their cricket to a halt. Indian domestic cricket resumed in early 2021, and it was the start of Iyer’s cricketing career to fully blossom.

Venkatesh Iyer

(Photo by Pankaj Nangia/Getty Images)

Former Indian wicketkeeper and current Madhya Pradesh coach Chandrakant Pandit elevated Iyer to open for his state in the 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (20-over tournament) and 2020-21 Vijay Hazare Trophy (List A tournament).


Across the two tournaments, Iyer scored a combined 500 runs in ten innings, scoring at a strike rate of 149.34 in the T20 tournament and 123.52 in the List A tournament. Iyer’s feats saw him bought by Kolkata Knight Riders for a base price of 20 Lakhs in the 2021 IPL auction.

KKR started the 2021 IPL edition poorly, winning a mere two out of seven matches and they were close to the brink of elimination.

Coach Brendon McCullum called upon Iyer’s services to open the batting. Iyer gave KKR the spark they needed, scoring 41* against Royal Challengers Bangalore and 53 against Mumbai Indians. Iyer soon became KKR’s sixth bowling option in the UAE leg of IPL 2021.

Within one over of watching Iyer bowl, I was convinced he could become an all-rounder for India in T20 cricket. He was mixing up his deliveries well in the death overs and nailed his wide yorkers on point – a positive sign for a medium pacer.

Iyer’s rise in the IPL saw him be interviewed by The Grade Cricketer and impress the hosts with his witty humour.

By the end of IPL 2021, Iyer scored 370 runs in ten innings, with four half centuries including a fighting 50 in the IPL final and three wickets taken at an average of 23 and a strike rate of 17.


After India’s disastrous 2021 ICC T20 World Cup and Hardik Pandya not reaching full fitness, Iyer saw himself called up to the Indian T20 squad for their series against New Zealand in late 2021.

But after flourishing in the top order, would Venkatesh Iyer be able to adapt to the middle order and excel down the order for India in T20 cricket?

So far, that answer is yes. Iyer has grabbed his opportunity in the six T20 internationals he has played thus far, helping India get out of difficult situations and providing Rohit Sharma with a sixth bowling option who can bowl seamers – something crucial in Australian conditions.

In T20 internationals, Iyer has scored 128 runs in six innings at a strike rate of 164.10, averaging 4.11 balls per boundary alongside taking three wickets in the 6.1 overs he has bowled in T20I games for India at an economy of 6.32.

The challenge for Iyer is to maintain that consistency to ensure he makes the World Cup squad later on this year. But India having a batting all-rounder who bowls medium pace and who can bowl the pressure overs is gold.

Shivam Dube and Vijay Shankar were behind Hardik Pandya in the seam-bowling all-rounder spot temporarily, before both have faded away from playing international cricket for now. Iyer’s performances thus far show he has kept himself in contention for the number six spot.

Having struggled for the majority of his career in domestic cricket, Venkatesh Iyer’s rapid rise since the beginning of 2021 is a blessing for Indian cricket. Iyer’s performances in domestic, franchise and T20 internationals in the past year definitely show he can be India’s X factor in the 2022 ICC T20 World Cup.