Having made his return to India’s limited-overs squad in October 2017, veteran batsman Dinesh Karthik is doing a reasonably job for the team in the lower middle. While Karthik has recorded the scores of 37, 64*, 4*, 0 and 26* in his last five ODI innings, he has got out only once in his last six T20I innings.
Considering the inconsistent past performances of Karthik, you must be wondering what made the 32-year-old so fearless yet responsible in his approach towards batting. Well, the credit for it goes to Mumbai cricketer Abhishek Nayar, who made Karthik stay in a house that was designed to knock the Tamil Nadu batsman out of his comfort zone.
During the 2016 edition of IPL, Karthik had spent his time in Nayar’s home in the suburbs of Mumbai wherein everything was messy to the core. The shower wasn’t working properly while the mug and bucket were broken in places. Moreover, Dinesh Karthik was given the responsibility to put everything in order and keep it clean.
“It was a torture room for Karthik. He is used to the good life. He stays in a bungalow back home in Chennai. But when he came to me, I wanted to take him to a zone where he’d never been before. It was tough and he would get angry on occasions. One time he begged me to let him go spend a night at a hotel. But I didn’t relent,” Nayar told Indian Express.
It was a phase in Karthik’s career where he was doubting himself, in terms of his international cricket future.
“He hadn’t had a good Ranji season back then and he’d seen his stocks drop from Rs 9 crore the previous season to Rs 2 crore in the IPL auction, being picked by Gujarat Lions. It was a moment he (Karthik) felt that if he fails this time than no team will show him interest again,” Nayar recalled.
Subsequently, it was Karthik who urged Nayar to help him find his feet in domestic cricket for the next two seasons at least.
Nayar then roped in Apoorv Desai, a local coach in Mumbai, and outlined a daily schedule for Karthik. Amit Pagnis, the former Mumbai opener, was also requested to provide a session on playing the slog-sweep. Moreover, Abhishek Nayar also hired an additional expert to scrutinize and improve Karthik’s feet movement.
“In the afternoons, we used to train twice. We used to gym, then do batting, sometimes even meditation. Then we’d work on batting visualization techniques, which he still follows in international cricket, and as it turned out he did well for Gujarat Lions that season,” Nayar reveals.
“He [Karthik] was used to getting up early morning and doing his training and then just think bus aaj ka din nikal gaya. But I intentionally kept his training session for the evening. He becomes restless like a kid, and the whole day he would keep saying ‘when will we train’, ‘when will we train’,” the Mumbai all-rounder explained.
Karthik performed exceptionally well in the subsequent domestic season, scoring 704 runs in 14 innings at an average of above 50 in first-class cricket. The right-hander then followed it with 607 runs in nine games at an average of 118 in the domestic ODIs. By the time the 2017 IPL got over, Karthik was back in the reckoning for national selection. He was picked for the ICC Champions Trophy in England.
Nowadays, Karthik share a very good bond with Nayar. In fact, he calls Nayar twice a day.
“I’d become his personal secretary or perhaps even my second wife over the last three years,” Nayar quips.
“There was no one to discuss his thoughts with. Those thoughts would mount up and they would get to him. He has less baggage now. He is also very superstitious at the crease. And we’ve worked on cutting down on that. Now he focuses on taking a deep breath before every delivery and getting his mind together,” he concluded.