A powerful mauler of attacks and a nagging medium-pacer, Abhishek Nayar's contributions with bat and ball have been invaluable to Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy. Pretty much any domestic side would snap him up if they could have him play for them. Still, few first-class cricketers divide opinion as much as Nayar does, especially when the debate is about his capacity to play at the highest level.
Is his batting good enough to warrant a spot in the Indian Test team's Top-7, and can he fit in as a third seamer when India are keen on playing two spinners? On paper, with a first class batting average of 56.73 and 32.04 with the ball, he should, without doubt, be the answer to India's quest for a seam-bowling all rounder. But somehow, despite having been part of the India A setup over the last month or so, rarely has Nayar ever figured as a realistic option as far as the Test team is concerned. More often than not, it's his medium-pace bowling that raises question marks rather than his aggressive batting.
There are days, though, like Wednesday at the Karnataka State Cricket Association (KSCA) ground in Hubli, when Nayar can prove a captain's delight with the ball. Tireless and incisive, never short of an appeal, and at the batsman ball after ball. And despite being the fourth seamer in an India A bowling attack comprising Zaheer Khan, Ishwar Pandey and Dhawal Kulkarni, it was Nayar's four-wicket haul -- a day after he turned 30 ó that shook West Indies A as they were bowled out for 268 on the opening day, with India A finishing on 10/0 in response.
The home team's pacers had more of a say on a Hubli wicket that had more on offer than the dead track in Shimoga.
It was Zaheer who drew first blood by getting rid of the in-form Kraigg Brathwaite. It was a classic case of a seasoned hunter coaxing his prey into his trap: three deliveries leaving the right-hander opener, two beating the bat, one a tad straighter to square him up, and a wide