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Abhishek Nayar has been the mainstay for Mumbai in domestic cricket for close to a decade now, but the Indian Premier League is one stage, where Nayar is yet to make a noticeable impact. The Mumbai all-rounder spoke to Abhijit Banare before the IPL season during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
He opines on Mumbai’s previous season, his IPL plans and other factors related to his game in an interview with CricketCountry.
Excerpts from the interview.
Cricket Country (CC): Mumbai had a patchy season this time around. How do you look back at the season for the team and yourself?
Abhishek Nayar (AN): It happens to the best of teams and when it happens, people do raise a lot of questions. We did well, but for a team like Mumbai, you expect to go the distance and unfortunately, it didn’t happen this time. Personally, I am not fussed up about my form, such seasons come along. I did well in the last two seasons. I am pretty happy how the India A and Challengers went. But you are not going to get runs all the time. I am happy as long as I am chipping in for the good of the team. I did well with the ball, if not the bat. As long as one of them clicks, I’m fine with it.
CC: Mumbai setup shuffled a bit when it comes to who will captain the side. There was Zaheer Khan, Wasim Jaffer and you too captained the unit. Do you see yourself taking up the captaincy from the next season?
AN: You don’t necessarily need to be a captain to take up leadership roles. Being a senior in the team, I try and talk to other guys so that I get the best out of them. But Zaheer has been a good leader for us. As for the others, we can rotate around and make sure that he gets the required support. It will be an honour for me to lead in the future. Every player wants to lead the team, be it for Mumbai or other team that he plays. I have always enjoyed taking up responsibilities. But I am happy that Zak [Zaheer] is doing it well right now. Whatever is best in the interest of the team is what is important for me.
CC: Mumbai, this season has experimented with a lot of youngsters. Who are the players you feel will be the key going forward in this transitional phase?
AN: Mumbai has a lot of good youngsters. It all depends how well they use these years to get better as cricketers. It’s a different ball-game when it comes to four-day cricket. Guys like Sarfaraz [Khan], Shreyas [Iyer] are used to the limited overs format, but it’s the four-day format which will be a challenge. It’s a matter of stepping up and getting your basics right. I am sure once they do that things should fall in to place.
CC: You’ve been a mainstay for Mumbai, but the IPL records haven’t been great. How do you look at it?
AN: I am always hopeful and working hard on it. Even when I was asked before, I always maintained that when you are batting at No 7, you are not always going to be successful. When you bat at such a position, it is always going to be a hit and miss game. I felt, I did bat well in a couple of games and was happy with the effort I had put in. Just hoping this season with Rajasthan Royals [RR] turns out much better.
CC: The batting stance has been a much discussed subject and criticised as well. What are the advantages you get with that stance as compared to others?
AN: A lot of people who know about techniques will say that staying low helps you face yorkers a lot better. It helps me play a couple of other shots very well. I have always been comfortable with that stance. I have batted staying upright, I have batted staying low, so each had its own advantages and disadvantages.
CC: In your past interviews, you have spoken about the assistance in mental conditioning from Anand Chulani. How has it helped you and do you think such assistance is underestimated in domestic cricket?
AN: It’s always good to have someone who can help you when you are down. Last year, I worked with him a lot, but this time around, I didn’t get much time. It’s a very personal thing, it depends on an individual. I benefited from it. It depends on what stage of a career the player is in, what he needs to get out of it. That could be one of the reasons why there are not many mental conditioning coaches in domestic cricket. A lot of players believe it’s the skill that enhances your mental conditioning.
CC: What is it that you focus on when you aren’t in form and things aren’t working out?
AN: There’s only one process which goes in the mind when you don’t do well, i.e. to work hard. One needs to look back and analyse the reasons why you weren’t doing well and why you were doing well when in form. You try and bat, bowl as much as [you can] in the nets depending on which area you are lacking. The bottom line is discipline and hard work pays whenever you are going through a rough patch.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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