Abhishek Nayar has been Mumbai’s crisis man. The southpaw has hardly put a wrong foot in this Ranji Trophy season. He has delivered those crucial breakthroughs when his team needed the most, and effected run-outs that changed the momentum of the game. Nayar’s willow has had a telling effect — rescuing the team on several occasions, including the semi-final against Services in Delhi recently. With three centuries and eight 50s, Nayar (940 runs) is currently third on the batting charts.
Nayar, who played three one-day internationals in 2009, speaks to MiD DAY about the season so far and the off-season preparation ahead of the big final against Saurashtra at the Wankhede Stadium from January 26.
What is working for you this season?
Honestly, I don’t know. I have been doing the same things since years. Yes, I have been working hard on my bowling. I have put in quite a lot of effort in it. I have been lucky as well this season.
During the season you have spoken about mental make-up. Please elaborate…
I did not have a good Indian Premier League (IPL) season (with Kings XI Punjab). It didn’t go as I had planned. Even during the break I couldn’t figure out what was going wrong. I had stagnated. I lacked motivation. I wanted to get my competitive edge back.
I tried different sports like playing table tennis, lawn tennis and also joined a dance class. I tried a lot of different stuffs and it helped to an extent.
But I needed a professional help to sort myself. I hired Anand Chulani, who is a peak performance expert with whom I have worked during the IPL (with Kings XI Punjab). He has kept me focused. He ensures mentally I am in the right place. It has helped me utilise my abilities to the best. The off-season hard work is paying off now.
Is mental make-up one of the reasons you hardly wilted under pressure?
I would certainly like to think so. It is a result of efforts put in during the pre-season training. Emphasis was on the process. The results would automatically fall in place. I am enjoying my game the most now. As far as playing in pressure situations is concerned, a lot has to do with the intensity of the game. I have been lucky enough as well. I am not a miracle man. I remind myself not to take anything for granted. I have been honest about my game.
What is the mindset of the team going into the final?
It has been a bumpy ride so far. We weren’t expecting too many things. We believe in enjoying the moment as it came. There are many youngsters in the team who will play their first Ranji final. They are all excited. Everybody has worked very hard to get into this position. Saurashtra is a good team and we have to be at our best.
You are just 56 runs away from becoming the highest run-scorer of the Ranji season. Do you fancy your chances in the final?
I am terrible at setting targets. I don’t want to put any pressure by thinking about it. I am very happy the way it is going. It would mean nothing if my team doesn’t win the title. It is not at the back of my mind either. It will happen if it is meant to be. Priority is the team should do well.