Shreyas Iyer was batting on 12 runs off 12 deliveries. It was the first T20 International of the three-match series against Sri Lanka and India had enjoyed a solid opening partnership. The right-hander, in at No 3, was looking content dealing in singles and doubles. But he needed to up the ante soon since India had plenty of wickets in hand and the opportunity to post a big total batting first.

Then came the 13th delivery of Iyer’s innings. He shuffled at the crease, as he often does, and stepped outside the off stump. Dasun Shanaka attacked the stumps and fired in a full delivery, but Iyer managed to get his bat down in time and whipped the ball off his pads for four.

That shot marked the start of a sensational run for Iyer. He went on to score a half-century in each of the three matches in the series, wasn’t dismissed even once, scored 204 runs, helped India complete a series sweep, and was declared the player of the series.

At 12 off 12 in the first T20I, Iyer’s strike-rate may have concerned those watching. However, in what was one of the most impressive aspects of his batting, the 27-year-old ended the series with a strike-rate of 174.35.

In the first T20I against Sri Lanka, Iyer smashed 45 runs off the last 16 balls he faced to remain unbeaten on 57* off 28. His innings helped India post a total off 199 and they went on to win the match by 62 runs.

The second T20I saw Iyer coming to the crease in a much trickier situation. Sri Lanka had batted first and scored 183 runs. India lost the wicket of Rohit with just nine runs on the board and had their backs to the wall. But Iyer steadied the ship and scored 74* off 44 as India went on to win the match by seven wickets with 17 balls to spare. This time, he got off the blocks sooner and maintained a good tempo throughout his innings.

Again, in the third and final T20I, Iyer came to bat after an early dismissal for Rohit. But he was unfazed, anchored the chase, remained unbeaten on 73 off 45, and helped India hunt down the target of 147 runs with six wickets in hand and 19 balls to spare.

There were a number of striking features in Iyer’s batting through the series. He played some high quality strokes and found boundaries on either side of the pitch. He respected the good deliveries and knew when to rotate strike. He also used his feet well and manipulated the field.

But what was most impressive was Iyer’s hunger to own the situation and get the job done for his team. He played like a senior pro. In T20 cricket, batters often hit a flurry of boundaries and get dismissed playing a reckless shot. But Iyer consistently took singles after hitting boundaries, he always seemed well aware of the match situation and was determined to stay at the crease till the end.

“Coming not-out in all three games was a commendable performance by me,” said Shreyas Iyer in the press conference after the third T20I against Sri Lanka on Sunday.

“I’m not keeping many expectations from myself. There’s immense competition in our team and every individual is capable of winning you games. I just want to enjoy every opportunity I’m provided with. I like to finish off games and that’s what my mindset is every time I go to the pitch.”

Iyer added: “In the first game, when I was batting on 12 runs from 12 balls, I thought I needed to charge on from there. I got good starts in the second and third games and that makes it easier for you to manoeuvre and manipulate the field. But when you don’t get a good start, it is really important to get your eye in and you can target a particular bowler in a given situation. So I think that worked out well for me in the first game after a slow start.”

Iyer’s record-breaking series comes at an interesting time. In India’s previous T20I series, against the West Indies, it was Suryakumar Yadav who stole the show and bagged the player of the series award. The right-hander, along with Venkatesh Iyer and Rishabh Pant, was dominant in the middle order and did his case a world of good.

As Iyer mentioned, there’s a great deal of competition at the moment for the batting slots in India’s T20I side. There are a number of players in form, a few senior ones who are away for now but will return, and eight T20Is along with an IPL season before the World Cup in Australia this year.

If he continues to hit the ball the way he is, Iyer will definitely be a strong contender for a World Cup spot. But in the end, he may be able to set himself apart if he sustains his appetite for closing out games.