Bengaluru: Not long ago, Karun Nair was celebrated as the only Indian to score a triple hundred after Virender Sehwag. The middle-order batsman has seen a rough patch since then, only managing 54 runs in the next four innings at an average of 13.5. One could say that he was not given a longer rope and could have played a few more matches had Ajinkya Rahane not recovered from his injury and played against Bangladesh in the one-off test in February 2017.
Nair, who has made a comeback into the India team, said that he has worked hard on his fitness over the last one-and-a-half years and feels that he is an improved version of himself. Asked about the pressure on him for not living up to the expectations after his landmark 303 (not out) against England at the Chepauk Stadium in Chennai, he said, “If you (the media) don't bring it up, I am not thinking about it anymore. If I can play such a knock again it's obviously good, but I am only looking to perform and win games for the team."
Asked how he is managing the pressure of cementing his spot in the team, Karun, who has been picked for the squad after Rohit Sharma’s poor run in South Africa, said, “Unless one keeps scoring consistently, there is no place in the team. Now that I have got the opportunity to do well, I am excited.”
He termed Afghanistan skipper Stanikzai’s statement that their spinners are better than India’s as “massive”. “They haven’t played Test cricket, while all our spinners have proven themselves. So, there isn’t much to say on that.”
On the plan to tackle the likes of Rashid and Mujeeb, he said, “Most of us have faced Rashid in IPL, but Test cricket is a different ball game. The key is to be watchful and play the ball on its merit.”
Sharing the experience of facing Mujeeb in the nets while playing for Kings XI Punjab, Karun said that he read the mystery spinner off his hands and felt it is the best way to go about it. “No doubt, he is a good bowler, but we just need to wait and watch what happens in the Tests.”
The local boy, who was dismissed for a golden duck during his last Test appearance at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, is determined to make it count this time.