Karun Nair’s sumptuous, unbeaten 303 has not just swept aside a slew of records and put India in a position to push for victory, it has also allayed concerns whether young batsmen in the country no longer put Test above the other two formats. (HIGHLIGHTS)
The concerns have not been without reason. In recent times, questions about top limited-overs batsmen struggling to achieve Test grade have abounded with Rohit Sharma held up as an example.
This despite Rohit arriving in Tests with a bang, scoring 177 and 111 not out on debut at home against the West Indies in 2013. His inability to produce another big score was pointed out every time he was chosen in the Test middle order. (SCORECARD)
Some of his dismissals were seen as a result of poor temperament, and his three back-to-back half-centuries in the 3-0 home series win over New Zealand before suffering a thigh injury didn’t entirely convince critics.
After all, Suresh Raina, another prolific limited-overs batsman, had fared worse. That left experts concerned whether upcoming players excited by the glamour of Twenty20 had the technique, temperament and keenness for Test cricket.
GAME FOR ANY FORMAT
The Chennai Test has gone to underline the fact that India have a third batsman who is capable of shining in all three formats.
Opener KL Rahul, who hit a career-best 199, has been solid so far in his Test career, but has taken giant strides as a T20 player as well. He struck an unbeaten 110 against the West Indies at Lauderhill in August, after getting to grips with the power-hitting needs of IPL earlier in the year for Royal Challengers Bangalore under the tutelage of Virat Kohli.
Nair too has straddled T20 and first-class very well. If his 328 in Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy final win over Tamil Nadu in 2015 was proof of his first-class credentials, his fluency, especially with the sweep shot, showed he can fit into any format.
Asked about his ability to fit into every format, Nair said: “My game doesn’t change much. It’s just the mental approach that changes. In Test matches, you have a lot more time to get settled and play big. I think the approach doesn’t change at all. I don’t play any different shots in any other format. I just play the same way.”
His triple century showed versatility. Nair was cautious as he rebuilt the innings on the third afternoon with Rahul, but smashed the tired England bowling on the fourth evening as India chased declaration.
It proved skipper Kohli has found another batsman in his mirror image.