Source | http://indianexpress.com : By Devendra Pandey
“HOUSE OF Pain”. It sounds like one of those outrageous and over-the-top gimmick matches from the world of WWE. Imagine a room filled with paraphernelia for two brawny wrestlers to use against each other in what will be repeatedly hyped up as the most “painful” match of them all. The house that Abhishek Nayar would make Dinesh Karthikstay in before the 2016 edition of the IPL fortunately wasn’t designed to provide “pain” in the real sense of the word. Nayar’s “House of Pain” was instead designed to knock India’s wicket-keeper batsman out of his comfort zone. To start with, the room—which was a part of Nayar’s home in the suburbs of Mumbai—was so small you could hardly say where it began from where it ended. The shower worked only rarely. The mug and bucket were broken in places. And it was Karthik’s responsibility to 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,” recalls Nayar. It was a phase in his career where Karthik feared his time had finally come and gone. He was still raking in fat contracts at IPL auction after IPL auction. But now the generally self-confident Karthik had begun doubting himself, in terms of his international cricket future anyway. “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 recalls. Nayar and Karthik had known each other a long time. But their mentor-pupil relationship began in 2016 when Karthik had come to Mumbai to train with Pravin Amre. It was Karthik who asked Nayar to help him find his feet back to ensure that he get through the next two domestic seasons at least. He’d scored 355 runs in 12 innings with only one hundred at an average of 32 that previous season. He’d only managed 272 runs in eight games for Tamil Nadu in the one-dayers. “Nobody was talking about an India recall back then. It seemed really far-fetched,” Nayar says.