It has been a tough year for Ajay Jayaram battling recurring injuries and seeing his compatriots make their name on the world stage from the sidelines.Earlier this year, Jayaram reached his career-high ranking of world No.13 but soon after his rise and growth was hampered by a knee injury.Jayaram played in the World Championships with the injury trouble and ended up aggravating it. It has been a story of a series of injuries ever since.”I think it’s (injury) probably the biggest battle an athlete faces. I have been through a shoulder surgery before and, yes it’s been hard. This year has been exceptionally tough because it hasn’t been a black and white injury where I could decisively tell that I would be back in so much time. It was pretty hard to decide whether to play or not and it kept recurring as well, and that’s a real mental challenge,” Jayaram said in an exclusive chat with IndiaToday.in.Jayaram will be playing for a new team, North Eastern Warriors, this season in the Premier Badminton League (PBL), which is scheduled to start from December 23.Welcome to #NEWarriors. #PBLAuction @PBLIndiaLive pic.twitter.com/4zbAXYl1UP- NE Warriors (@NEShuttlers) October 9, 2017Jayaram was one of the best performers in the previous edition of the tournament and he is looking forward to putting up good performances once more to get himself back on track.”Somehow I’ve done well in PBL for the past 2-3 years. It’s fun to play with so much of people supporting you and coming to watch and I’ve enjoyed that entire thing. It kind of set me up for a good year (PBL 2) but sadly, I had to step down. I probably reached my career best and then faced the injury, so yeah. PBL is different from the regular circuit to some extent, I would say. I think if I manage to do well this season again, I can take a lot going forward,” Jayaram shared.advertisementWhile badminton is essentially an individual sport, PBL’s format enables these individuals to come together as a team and perform in a unit. In PBL, two teams take on each other in different categories like men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and mixed doubles and the points won in each category translate to a total score.Jayaram feels that though badminton remains an individual sport even in PBL, the team factor adds a zing to the whole competition and with teams cheering and backing you, it brings a different kind of inspiration and motivation.”It’s tricky because I would say that it’s still an individual sport. At the end of the day, you’re on court alone. But yeah, certain elements come with leagues like this where there’s a certain inspiration and motivating factor that really originates from the team bonding. There are elements but yeah it’s not entirely a team sport like football, where you need to gel with your teammates but still, I’d say it has elements of both.”There’s definitely an element of team motivation that factors in and I think, it’s very important even when you’re off-court and cheering for the teammates, you need to feel the vibe and energy. I think it really translates onto the court and to the person playing,” Jayaram told.Jayaram has reached the finals of the PBL consecutively in the past two years with two different teams (Delhi Dashers and Mumbai Rockets) and will look to make it a hat-trick of finals, leading his new team to the last stage of the tournament and make their debut season a memorable one.”I feel I have been lucky to reach the finals twice in a row with two great teams but I don’t take it as an added pressure on my performance. As always, I will try to perform to the best of my abilities and look to get the desired result for the team.”At the age of 30, Jayaram has now accepted the injuries that incessantly trouble him and instead focusses all his energy into the recovery.”I think, at the end of the day it’s about accepting certain things and that your body probably has taken a toll over the years. I have been focussing a lot more on recovering in the last couple of months, with physio treatments and making sure that I am completely prepared before every session and even after the session, recovering in all possible forms.”So, yes, it’s all about doing the best you can with whatever you have. You can’t keep cribbing about how it would’ve been had I not been injured and all, it’s part of an athlete’s journey and it’s all about dealing with it,” Jayaram noted.advertisementHe conceded that his training sessions differed as he was recovering and he attempted to manage his body well. He shared that going for shots was a struggle when he began his recovery due to mental block but it eased off with time.”The intensity and duration of the training sessions have reduced a bit. I normally train for 5-6 hours in 3 sessions and now I have reduced it to two, limiting myself to one on court session and one in the gym and running. I’ve tried to manage the best I can.”Generally, in the initial part of the injury, yes, one kind of faces a certain kind of mental block. But I think it’s all about getting through it, when you practice enough and once you’re confident on court in practice, it kindly wears off. It’s just a matter of time when that thing is overcome,” Jayaram concluded.