Abhishek Nayar says his Mumbai cricketing career is over
All-rounder Abhishek Nayar decides his Mumbai Ranji Trophy career is over and joins new team Puducherry; happy to be in set up that needs him more
Abhishek Nayar finally put a full stop to his two-decade cricket journey in Mumbai yesterday, but it's not the end of the road for the all-weather man. On the cusp of reaching 100 first-class matches, the Powai resident will now play the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season for Puducherry.
"I had decided that I did not want to occupy the all-rounder's slot for long because I did not want to play for a state wherein there would be guys saying, 'Aare bhai, buddah hogaya, abhi tho chhod'," Nayar told mid-day yesterday. Nayar, 34, was dropped from Mumbai's Ranji squad in November last year after scoring 130 runs and picking eight wickets in five matches. He did not get a look-in again.
"It was a no-brainer. I got dropped from the team and I wanted to go to a state where they actually needed me. I felt Pondicherry fit in that category perfectly because it is a new state, they do not have a great cricket culture and will require that guidance and assistance. I am not stepping on someone's toes as well," he added.
The thought of playing for Puducherry, that was granted Associate membership by BCCI last year, does excite Nayar, also a mentor to other players, India wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik being a well-known example. "I get an opportunity to work with some very young guys who have not played any competitive cricket. I will assess the kind of players we have and find the perfect way to work with them and how I can add value to the team," he said.
However, leaving Mumbai, especially with one match left to complete 100, was tough. "Yes, but that has been the story of my life. One thing has always eluded me. I am completely okay with that. I look at it from a different way. I would have loved to play that 100th game [for Mumbai], but who knows, if I did, then may be Pondicherry would have never happened," he said.
Forty-one time Ranji champions Mumbai's preparations ahead of this season was delayed by a month due to the appointment of support staff. Nayar was not bothered, but explained all the team needs is a trustworthy coach. "If the coach can just keep the atmosphere fine, there's nothing else to do. The team can do miracles if they just have someone who is honest to them, who can give them what they want in terms of preparation practice and someone, who they can trust. If they have that, this team is nothing less than a champion team," he said.
'Mumbai, everything for me'
The southpaw signed off with a parting message for the Mumbai team. "The one thing we have always spoken about is how we are as a family. Wherever I am, that lion will always roar in my heart and I will always be following this team. This team has been everything to me," he said. Nayar leaves for Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh today where he will join the Puducherry team for a training camp.
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