PORT OF SPAIN: After India registered a commanding series-clinching win over West Indies in the third ODI, skipper Virat Kohli was all praise for young batsman Shreyas Iyer, saying the 24-year-old has presented a strong case for himself to be a regular feature of the team in the limited-overs format.
Kohli, who scored 120 and 114* in the last two ODIs against the West Indies, on both the occasions, found able support in tricky situations from Iyer, who added partnerships of 125 and 120 with his captain and took India to victory.
After India secured a comfortable six-wicket win in a rain-curtailed third match, Kohli said he was mighty impressed with the way Iyer handled the pressure and played with maturity.
"He understood the value of performing in these situations," Kohli at the Queen's Park Oval on Wednesday.
"It will only boost his confidence further. I was exactly the same when I came in -- any opportunity I got I wanted to win games for my team and play according to the situation and you have to take risks. He was brave under pressure. You need to reveal your game to realise who you are, what your game is and what kind of a player you are."
Iyer scored 71 and 65 in the two innings he played in the Caribbean Islands and has turned out to be a "strong contender and a regular feature in the middle order" if he continued to take responsibility like he did during this series, said Kohli.
"Both times he was batting with me, I've been around for a while, and he wasn't intimidated at all, he was very confident, very sure of his game. I think that is great to watch, hopefully he will build on to this and keep performing like this for the team," said Kohli.
"Today we were under a bit of pressure, I think Shreyas, the way he played took all the pressure off me and I could just play with my usual tempo and control the game from one end," he added.
On Wednesday, the Indian skipper brought his 43rd ODI ton which earned him the Player of the Match and Player of the Series awards.
Chasing a revised target of 255 on Duckworth-Lewis method, India lost opener Rohit Sharma (10) in the third over. However, Shikhar Dhawan and Kohli rose to the occasion and took the Men in Blue to 91 in the 12th over before the opener became Fabien Allen's victim. Kohli remained unbeaten at 114 which came off just 99 balls and made sure India crossed the line without any hiccups.
"I have been around for a while. Experience counts in pressure situations, understanding where the game is heading and what I need to do in terms of the tempo of the game," he said.
"So, you obviously want to take a lot of pride in stepping up for the team as much as you can and I definitely take a lot of pride in that," he added.
India will now take on West Indies in the two-match Test series, which will also see them beginning their World Test Championship from August 22.