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In-form Nayar eyes Team India recall

Last updated on: January 07, 2013 20:33 IST

Mumbai, as a team, struggled to make it to the knock-out stages of the Ranji Trophy this season, with just one outright victory to show for their efforts.

However, when it comes to individual performances, there have been quite a few highs for the 39-time champions.

Be it Rohit Sharma, Wasim Jaffer, Aditya Tare, Ankit Chavan or, for that matter, Sachin Tendulkar, all delivered what is expected of them.

But if there was one standout performance, it was from Abhishek Nayar.

Abhishek NayarThe 29-year-old not only tops Mumbai's batting charts, with an aggregate of 852 runs in nine matches, including three centuries and seven fifties, but also happens to be their second best bowler (behind Chavan), with 16 wickets.

- Nayar joins Mumbai run-feast vs Baroda

Nayar carried forward his form in the group stages to the knock-out rounds, scoring an unbeaten 122 on Day Two in Mumbai's quarter-final against Baroda at the Wankhede stadium on Tuesday.

The knock was his 11th first class hundred and third this season, but first in seven games, after he scored 107 not out against Railways and an unbeaten 105 against defending champions Rajasthan in Mumbai's first two games.

Nayar had as many as seven half centuries in the interim period, but failed to convert them into a three-figure scores. No wonder his celebration, after reaching the landmark, was more about contentment than ecstasy.

The left-hander admitted he was relieved at finally getting the elusive ton.

"To be honest, after the first two games I have got seven fifties," explained Nayar, adding, "A lot of times I was left not out.

"So I was left frustrated with that. I spoke to my manager and he kept saying I needed to get hundreds.

"I was lucky enough to get one today."

The batsman proceeded to explain that a minor change in technique in the off-season ensured rich dividends and credited former coach Praveen Amre for the same.

"I have been working with Praveen a lot when it comes to my batting," said Nayar, adding, "I make sure I am in touch with him before game and work on whatever we have done before the start of the season.

"I make sure my videos go to him and he sees what I need to do or not. I don't want to repeat the mistakes that I did last year.

 "So we (him and Amre) decided that however the tournament goes we will keep making changes with the way I am batting and try to get better."

All this effort, consistency and focus on technique et al aren't without a reason though.

Nayar, who donned Team India colours in three One-Day Internationals in 2009 sans much success (read opportunities), wants his place back in the national set-up.

"I have a bigger goal in mind this year. Obviously, I am playing for a bigger reason than just getting runs here (in domestic cricket)," admitted Nayar.

"I want to get back into the Indian team and do well there," he added.

It is this motivation that has helped Nayar produce a stellar season, not only with the bat but also with the ball.

Now that he has had a consistent run, the batsman wants to continue in the same vein.

"I don't want to relax at any point of time," said Nayar, adding, "I am just trying to make it sure that whenever I get a chance I don't take it for granted and make the most of every opportunity.

"My target is clear and, therefore, I am trying to push myself to the limit and get the best out of myself."

Bikash Mohapatra