Here is that one question which Karun Nair always had to answer in most press conferences: How does it feel to be out of the Indian Test team despite scoring a triple hundred? It’s hard to be in Nair’s shoes. It must be hurting, he must have felt he got a raw deal. And when he once tried speaking about it, it didn’t go well with the powers to be.
“It is difficult, but I haven’t gone forth and asked anything, but yeah, we haven’t had any conversation,” Nair said after being dropped after 2018 England tour, and almost immediately the chairman of selectors M S Prasad said he had already done so and Nair’s statements weren’t correct. There were murmurs within the board about the clause in players contract that prohibits them from speaking about selection — basically the book was thrown at him.
He got four more Test innings after his unbeaten 302 against England and in none he could manage to score a half century. He scored 612 runs in 11 innings in 2017-18 season and saw a slump in form during last Ranji season, scoring just 224 runs in ten innings with an average of 24. He has been part of the India A team till last October, but the selectors moved forward since. Nair’s name didn’t feature in the India A team travelling to New Zealand later this month.
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One eve of their Ranji Trophy game against Mumbai, the Karnataka captain Nair was once again thrown the same question — How does he feel? He played it with a straight bat.
“For me it is about playing each game at a time and trying to contribute as much as I can to Karnataka and try to win games for Karnataka. And that is what I am trying to do this season, and Iam looking forward to try and contribute more with the bat and as captain so that we can win games. All of us are looking to win the Ranji Trophy, that’s our ultimate goal,” he said in one breath.
He was asked again about the India dream. Is he looking at that?
“Not really, because it is important for me first concentrate on what’s happening over here and whatever has to happen, I have no control over it. My only focus is to do well here and contribute for Karnataka.”
Karnataka has a good competitive team and had Mayank Agarwal not pulled out at the last minute after the Indian board’s advice to take rest, it could have turned out into a real high-profile encounter.
Mumbai look to bounce back
Even as things stand, this should be a cracking contest, especially considering Mumbai are smarting from a loss in their last game at home to Railways.
Yadav and Shaw will be flying to New Zealand on January 10 for the ‘A’ team tour, and Mumbai will hope their star players click in this crucial game.
Rahane will be undergo a conditioning programme at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru from next week before joining the India A team.
Mumbai is trying to recover from last round’s upset and the selectors have recalled Sarfraz Khan, who is likely to play his first Ranji game of the season.
“One bad game doesn’t make us a bad team. We won our first match against Baroda. I only told the boys that if we have to go on win matches then we will have to accept defeats also, that too positively. I told them to remain the same when we win or when we lose,” Yadav stated.
“I have told them not to change their game. But their approach can be better and they can be more responsible. It’s about how we see those situations and how we tackle them. Playing out those difficult phases is important and that’s what we discussed after the defeat. That’s what we will be looking to do that tomorrow,” the Mumbai skipper added.
Stats might not matter in the here and now but, for what it is worth, Mumbai haven’t beaten Karnataka in their last five encounters. The next four days will tell us whether it will be more of the same or will Mumbai reverse the trend.
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