Karun Nair'is A Difficult Path To '303' > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more

Cricket news - Karun Nair's hard road after '303'

"I had to do something (about the lack of runs). I had some time off and during that time I sat down to think what I need to do more" - Karun

Karun Nair often parks his Ford Mustang just near the National Cricket Academy entrance when he's practising in Bangalore. It's presence is hard to miss before the '303' on the plate strikes you. The number 303, of course, is pretty significant for Nair. He is, after all, only the second India player to score a Test triple century. And while his knock against England in Chennai brought in some significant advantages, the middle-order batsman has harshly found out that the disadvantages often outweigh the reward.

More than the recognition, the knock has only brought him under more scrutiny. Just like the "he's now the former India Test player" jibe he was subjected to on a gloomy August morning at NCA last year by a fan. You'd often wonder if the knock itself weighed Nair down. But the player himself has stressed the knock now gives him space where he "doesn't need to prove anything to anyone". And yet, he's often trying to convey "it's about time to move on from the triple ton".

It's been a 622-day wait for Nair for a first-class ton. His last century came against Vidarbha in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy semifinal against Vidarbha. Karnataka went on to lose the game - by a fine margin of five runs - but Nair had reminded his detractors he still had it in him having finished the season with 612 runs from seven games at an average of 68. On Friday (August 23), Nair made a grinding 92 off 189 to take India Red to 163 for 2 on the opening day of the second Duleep Trophy game against India Blue in Alur.

These are desperate times for Nair. The opportunities with the Test side were far and few even after the triple ton and his lean patch meant he has had to make way in the India A side as well. For most parts of the knock, you could feel the batsman's selfishness coming to the forefront. Who could blame Nair, after all? The constant grind hasn't been kind on him and the England tour snub too didn't help his confidence. It's the start of the season, a batsman with all his last season struggles on the back of his mind trying to play himself into form. It's what batsmen do, don't they?

Nair walked into bat in the very first over of the game after Shubman Gill decided to stick in his opponents. It wasn't an easy start with Aniket Choudhary making use of the new ball with excellent control. He took time to settle in but if you were to have a sign of things to come, you had to turn to the fourth ball of the eighth over. Basil Thampi was the bowler as he saw Nair stand tall on his toes and crash a wide one past point. What followed was Nair holding pose as the ball raced past the in-field.

Priyank Panchal and Nair collaborated to score 40 for the second wicket before the former fell caught behind chasing a wide one. Ankit Kalsi and Nair then collaborated to frustrate the opposition for the rest of the day as their stand stayed unbeaten on 123. As often it's the case with comeback knocks, you need a compliant opponent as well. Nair was dropped in the 28th over off Jalaj Saxena at short-leg and Gill's defensive captaincy meant the singles were available in plenty.

His first attacking stroke came only in the 36th over as he charged down the track to smash Saurabh Kumar over mid-off to bring up his half-century off 101 balls. There were no celebrations though. The job not even half done. Nair took another 81 deliveries to enter the nervous 90s before rain ended the day.

"I had to do something (about the lack of runs). I had some time off and during that time I sat down to think what I need to do more," Nair said after the day. "I just needed to work harder than anyone else and bat that much more than anyone else. Be it double sessions in the morning and evening or batting the whole day. This is the time to do it. I won't get this time back. It's been satisfying and I've been able to put in those hours and it showed. Hopefully, now I can turn that time into more performances."

It's been 22 innings since Nair got a first-class ton. It's about time for one.

Brief scores: India Red 163/2 (Karun Nair 92*) v India Blue.

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