The situation needed such an innings - Nayar
Mumbai's Abhishek Nayar did not get a chance to impress in an unofficial one-day series against South Africa A last month, what with two of the three games washed out, but pitted against his team-mates from that series, he showed his talent.
Nayar, a left-hand middle-order batsman and right-arm medium-pace bowler, walked in when his side were threatening to collapse from 164 for 4 on a good batting surface. He didn't curb his natural instincts, instead trusting his attacking method. Neither did he let the Rest of India bowlers hit with any sort of rhythm, taking Mumbai towards a competitive total with 118 off 108 balls, including 20 fours and a six.
Nayar later said that his second first-class century, coming as it did against mostly the same team, was special. "At this level, at this point of my career, this innings is important. I was in the A side, but didn't get to play. I had got a hundred before that, and to get another now is special."
That hundred was a 162-ball 152 against Karachi Urban last month which helped seal the Mohammad Nissar Trophy for Mumbai. But Nayar rates this a lot higher "because it came at a more crucial juncture". "At that point I wasn't thinking about India A and all, but now I am."
What satisfied him most, though, was that the situation was tough and he still managed with his natural game. "I rate it as a good knock because of the situation. We were on the back foot and I got my team into a better position. It's not because of the quality of the opposition, but because the situation demanded a lot out of me. That's why it was satisfactory.
"If a situation demands something, it's not necessary to change your game. And if I get out after changing my game, I would come back unhappy that I didn't do what I do best. I did what I do best and it worked for me."
It is not usually that a team rattles up close to 400 on the first day of a big match in Indian domestic cricket, but thanks to Nayar's aggressive batting Mumbai managed 385 in 86 overs. The pace at which the runs were scored will prevent this game from degenerating into a first-innings affair as happens with high-scoring domestic games. Being a five-day match and given the strength of ROI's batting and the quality of the surface, Mumbai would have wanted more, as Nayar's fellow centurion Sahil Kukreja agreed.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer with Cricinfo Magazine