From 135 kilos to 99 not out, the rewarding journey of Sujit Nayak

The southpaw switched to clobbering bowlers from devouring junk food, emerging with the highest individual score in T20 Mumbai Season 1.

“As a teenager, food used to be my best friend. So weighing at a 135-kilos I didn't really see myself playing cricket,” recalls Sujit Nayak. “My dad used to be the coach of the Mumbai U-15 team back then, and whenever I used to join him and watch the other cricketers train or the way they used to talk about the game. I realised I was never so passionate about the game.

“It was only after I graduated from college and I had to take up a career path that I got into cricket; and actually started enjoying it. Since then, there has been no looking back.”

Hailing from a family of cricketers – with his dad, Suru Nayak, a former Indian player and brother, a former UAE cricketer – the sport came naturally to Sujit when he started playing seriously. However, the tumultuous challenge was getting back in athletic shape for the then overweight Nayak to be fit enough to play in the Indian Premier League after being picked by Mumbai Indians in 2012.

“Getting back in shape was really difficult because my entire thinking had to be changed. Thankfully, that’s when Mumbai Indians and Reliance came into my life,” starts Nayak. “They really took good care of me, motivated me and helped inculcate the seriousness and professionalism that is necessary for a cricketer.

“Their physio at the team, Patrick Farhart, helped me with training and everybody else who was involved with Mumbai Indians like Paras Mambri, Afzal Khan and Rahul Sanghvi took really good care of me.”

The rigorous training and hardcore dieting habits inculcated by them helped shape Sujit Nayak’s career, giving it a new track. One of his finest hours as a cricketer came in the T20 Mumbai league last season, when his team SoBo SuberSonics played against ARCS Andheri.

Batting first, his team were 63/1 after seven overs when Nayak walked out to bat. The southpaw batsman started slow but accelerated the scoring after getting his eye in. The big man old clobbered 6 fours and 9 sixes as he went to score 99 not out - the highest score of the league last season.

From being an overweight kid to scoring perfectly weighted sixes, Sujit Nayak has come a long way in his cricketing career. With his never-say-die attitude and tepid perseverance, he remains a trailblazer for young kids harbouring sporting ambitions.

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