I am a better batsman now, says Karun

WORDS OF WISDOM Karun Nair (left) gets some advice from coach Ravi Shastri during a training session on Monday. DH PHOTO/ SRIKANTA SHARMA R

Karun Nair, playing in just his third Test match a year and a half ago, made a name for himself when he hammered an unbeaten 303 that sent the nation into a tizzy. A talented batsman who had been knocking on the doors of the Indian team for while, it seemed like he had secured his place.

But the Karnataka cricketer had to make way for a fit-again Ajinkya Rahane in the very next match. Nair, though, wouldn't be forgotten so easily and was handed another chance when Australia came calling in February-March. The 26-year-old, though, fizzled out under the burden of expectations and the intense competition for places as he managed to accumulate just 54 runs in three Tests. 

Since then, Nair had disappeared from the selectors' radar before being handed a lifeline after being picked for the one-off Test against Afghanistan. Normally a bouncy character with the State team, Nair looked nervous and coy as he fronted up for an interaction with the media on Monday afternoon.

"It has been a long time now," said Nair when a question about the triple century was unsurprisingly hurled at him. "It has been about two years. Unless you guys bring it up, I am not thinking about it. Obviously, it’s a good feeling. It’s time that we all moved on and looked ahead. I am ready to get bigger scores. It’ll be good if you’re not thinking of that and just looking to perform for the team and win games for them.

"I think I have become fitter now. I have improved my skills over the last two years. I think I have done a lot and scoring runs in domestic cricket really helps. I have worked on my fitness, my fielding and every aspect of the game. I know that I am a better batsman now than I was two years ago. I’d like to take that confidence into everything that I do."

Nair, who has also been picked in the India 'A' side for the tour of England, said he is determined to do well there. "The 'A' series bridges the gap between international cricket and domestic. Otherwise, there would be too much of a gap. Players getting a chance in the ‘A’ series is good for their preparation. If you get to go overseas it’s better, and we’re getting to go to England. For most of us, that’s going to be the first trip to England and it being before India’s tour of England, it’s really good. Most of us had a short camp before they (limited overs side) left so we’re very excited.

"For me, there’s still a long way to go. I still have this Test match to play. I’m not thinking so far ahead. Obviously, the ‘A’ series preparations are going on. First and foremost is this Test match. I would like to do well in this Test and go on from there."

Afghanistan spinners Rashid Khan and Mujeeb ur Rahman have built up quite a reputation with their wicket-taking abilities but Nair exuded the confidence of confronting them. "Talking about Rashid, most of us have played him in the IPL but this is a different ball game. This is a Test match and no one has played him in Tests. I don’t think he has played too many red-ball games either. The key is to be watchful and take it as it comes.

"(About Mujeeb), I can talk personally, I just read the ball out of the hand. I think that’s the best way to play spin. He’s obviously a good bowler but we just need to wait and watch what happens in this Test match."

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I am a better batsman now, says Karun

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