Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar has been a man for crises. He bats Mumbai out of tough situations and provides breakthroughs bowling medium pace even when others fail.
But freak injuries have kept forcing him off the game. Although he returns stronger, it has limited his India appearances.
“The kind of things that have happened to me are quite different. I get injuries that can’t even be compared to others, but they have been a part of my life. I have had five surgeries despite a strong body. All these things have made me strong, and I am happy I beat the odds to make a comeback,” the 33-year-old said.
Nayar suffered a wrist injury on India’s tour of the West Indies in July 2009 after a delivery reared off the pitch and struck him. Though he played in the Champions Trophy two months later, against West Indies at Johannesburg, an ankle injury soon after forced another break. He made a comeback for the ODIs against Australia, but didn’t get a game.
Nayar though has no regrets.“I am not superstitious, but a firm believer in destiny. My wife keeps telling me to do certain rituals related to astrology but I don’t like to beg god ‘give me this, keep me away from that’. If something is meant to happen, it will.
“On Saturday (in the Ranji tie versus Baroda in Palam) we dropped Kedar Devdhar (Baroda opener) thrice in his 90s. I guess he had to get a century. I have no regrets that I could have had better bowling figures. The same goes for my injuries. A lot of people are susceptible to injuries and I believe I am one of them.”
In Mumbai’s first innings on Friday, he scored 38 and with Akhil Herwadkar helped Mumbai take a slender first innings lead. He then ground out a 99-ball 11 not out on Sunday evening to help the defending champions come away with a draw and three points. In the first innings, the ankle troubled him and required treatment.
In Mumbai’s opening game against Tamil Nadu last week too his unbeaten 45 on a lively pitch in Lahli, Haryana bailed out the side before they went on to win.
“I can only push myself to an extent; after a point the body can take only so much. Though I am strong and positive, I also get depressed why such injuries happen to me. From my childhood, I have worked very hard to play at every level and that keeps me going in difficult times. All my centuries have come in winning causes and that boosts me a lot,” said Nayar, who played five games last season and was then rested following finger surgery.
Despite injuries, Nayar has managed a 15-year first-class career. As a senior, he wants to give something back to the game.
“I like playing all roles in the side, as leader and mentor. I get satisfaction helping the juniors in difficult times. In the dressing room, I want to be a person who could be looked upon. I hate being selfish and love to see youngsters doing well. If I want I could promote myself up the order as I might get a chance to score more runs, but I like the challenge given to me by my coach and captain.
“This year, I have been asked to bat at No 7 to make the tail understand their worth. I sit with players who are not doing well and ease their stress.”
Nayar is still hopeful of an India comeback. “At this stage in my career, it is mental toughness that does a world of good for you. If I get match-winning performances at my batting position, selectors will notice it.”
The only time Nayar got a bit defensive was when asked about his Johannesburg game against West Indies. He was zero not out off seven deliveries. “The point is, I remained not out and we won. Actually, I asked Virat Kohli to take a single as I thought I could target Kemar Roach. But he hit a four and I faced (pacer) Gavin Tonge. He bowled a perfect over.”