Ahishek Nayar is turning out to be the Most Valuable Player (MVP) for Mumbai this Ranji Trophy season. The southpaw, whose progress has been hampered due to wrist injuries in the last few years, scored his third century of the season yesterday after back-to-back unbeaten tons at the start of the season against Railways and Rajasthan respectively.
He has already struck six fifties of which four have been unbeaten. He has also put his bowling skills to good use, getting crucial breakthroughs for Mumbai.
With the scoreboard reading 286-4 when Wasim Jaffer, who added only 13 runs to his overnight score, was scalped by Gagandeep Singh for 150, Nayar once again lived up to expectations and helped Mumbai post a mammoth 524 for six on Day Two of the quarter-final against Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium yesterday. Nayar is batting on 122 with Ankeet Chavan giving him company on 17.
Nayar and Dhawal Kulkarni, who was dropped on one by Baroda skipper Yusuf Pathan in the slips, showed enough resistance as they added 70 for the fifth wicket. Nayar then teamed up with Aditya Tare (64) to add 123 for the sixth wicket.
There was more of relief than delight on Nayar’s face when he reached the three figure mark with a quick single.
“Our manager (Shrikant Tigdi) has been saying ‘no 50s any more... get a hundred now’. It was getting frustrating for me as well because in the last three matches I have remained unbeaten in the 50s (72 not out against Gujarat in Nerul, 62 not out against Madhya Pradesh in Indore and unbeaten 69 against Saurashtra in Rajkot). So, I was relieved to score a century finally,” said Nayar, who played three ODIs for India in West Indies, 2009.
Nayar and Tare scored at a brisk pace, but in the last 30-odd overs of the day’s play, the duo dropped down their scoring rate to two per over. “It was hard to score runs as the field was quite defensive. They also bowled an irritating line to an extent,” said Nayar.
Nayar adopted an altered stance yesterday though it was still unusual to watch. He stood wide outside the leg stump. “Yes, I opened my stance a bit today. I was shuffling a lot in the crease, so that is why I decided to stand outside the leg stump. I have been in constant touch with Praveen Amre (former Mumbai coach) and I make sure all my videos go to him. I look up to him with regards to any aspect of my game,” he said.
Is Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni fine with it? “We have played enough of cricket to understand what we are doing. I have been with Amre for a long time. As regards to Sulakshan Kulkarni, I have never had problems with him and I am sure he understands why I am doing what I am doing.
“As I said, I have a bigger goal in mind this year and that is to play for India again. I will do whatever it takes to improve my game,” he signed off.