Karun Nair became only the third Indian batsman to convert his maiden century into a double, after the heartbreak of opener KL Rahul’s dismissal for 199 as India took the first innings lead against England on the fourth day of the final Test against England on Monday. (SCORECARD)
Karun Nair, five short of the landmark at tea, struck Keaton Jennings to the cover fence for his 23rd boundary to reach the double hundred, raising the bat as the bat raced across the field. He also struck a six in his seven-and-half hour effort, facing 306 balls.
Karun Nair, who made his debut in the series after coming in as an injury replacement for Rohit Sharma, emulated Dilip Sardesai (200* vs New Zealand, 1965) and Vinod Kambli (224 v England, 1993), the other two Indian batsmen to achieve the feat.
West Indies legend Gary Sobers heads that list, with a world record 365 not out as a 21-year-old against Pakistan in 1958.
Karun Nair, 25, capped his superb effort, having anchored the innings first with Rahul in a 161-run fourth wicket partnership overnight. He added another century partnership with Ravichandran Ashwin for the sixth wicket to ensure India give themselves hope of victory despite a flat MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch.
The stand with Ashwin had crossed the 150-mark.
On 122 at lunch, Nair smashed 72 runs in the afternoon session, attacking pace and spin as he played firm backfoot drives through the off-side as well as reverse sweeps. The only bowlers who gave some anxious moments to either batsmen were Ben Stokes and Keaton Jennings, who swung his seamers.
Karun Nair’s double century will be sweet for the India team after Rahul let the pressure of the landmark get to him and lobbed a wide delivery from spinner Adil Rashid to point.
Run out for four in his first innings, in the third Test at Mohali, and dismissed for 13 during the innings victory in Mumbai, Nair cashed in on a good MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch.
Karun Nair changing gears
An aggressive player, he toned down his shots after India lost Cheteshwar Pujara and skipper Virat Kohli in quick succession after lunch on the third day, raising a 161-run fourth wicket partnership by playing a supportive role to Rahul.
Nair, who was dropped on 34 by England skipper Alastair Cook at slip off paceman Jake Ball, made it count by building a solid fifth wicket partnership with Murali Vijay, the opener batting at No 6 after getting treatment for a bruised shoulder suffered while fielding.
Soon after getting to his century, A bit off wood came off the shoulder of his bat as a Ben Stokes delivery flew to the fence. But Nair continued to use the same blade.
Karun Nair’s prosperous start
Born in Jodhpur, Nair’s family moved to Karnataka. He made a splash on his first-class debut in the 2013-14 season, scoring three centuries in a row to highlight the role played by young players in Karnataka’s Ranji Trophy triumph. In the 2014/15 season, Nair made history when he smashed a triple century in the final against Tamil Nadu in Mumbai to help Karnataka retain the title.
Being signed up for Rajasthan Royals in 2014 was seen as a natural progression for the aggressive middle-order batsman. Delhi Daredevils saw big value in him after buying him for Rs 4 crore in the 2016 players’ auction from a base price of Rs 10 lakh.
He had an outside chance to make his India debut last year, in the third and final Test against Sri Lanka in Colombo after being flown in as standby following Murali Vijay’s hamstring injury.