Karun Nair is aiming for a repeat of last year’s match-winning show for Delhi Daredevils at his home ground when they face Royal Challengers Bangalore on Saturday.
“I feel great to come back to my home ground,” the Karnataka batsman told HT on Friday after training at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium. In 2016, Quinton de Kock (108) and Nair (54*) put on a 134-run partnership to clinch a seven-wicket win. “I have always had good memories here, so I am looking forward to starting the tournament really well and contributing to Delhi Daredevils winning the game,” he said.
This time, RCB’s batting might is diminished as skipper Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and KL Rahul are out injured. Daredevils, who ended sixth in 2016, also will miss the South African duo, de Kock and JP Duminy.
Nair, 25, was the second highest-scorer for Daredevils last season (357), behind de Kock (445), but touched dizzy heights in December when he lashed an unbeaten 303 to set up victory in the final Test against England in Chennai. However, under pressure to live up to expectations, he made just 54 runs in four innings against Australia.
Nair, however, said he isn’t worried about the low scores and is focused to do well in the IPL.
“With Quinny and JP missing, I see it as an opportunity for everyone to go out and express themselves,” he said. “Both teams have quality squads and depth. It will be a good match, and whoever plays better on the day will win.
“My cricket remains the same (on switching from Tests to T20). It only calls for mental adjustment. You have to take risks early in T20.”
Was the triple century playing on his mind during the Australia series? “Not at all. (In fact) it gives you confidence that you have been able to score big runs. That was the confidence I took into the series. Honestly, I believe I was playing really well, it was just that I could not convert the starts.
“It is one of those times when you are playing well, hitting the ball well, but you are not able to convert it. I am confident the way I am hitting the ball, a big knock is around the corner.
“I have my own expectations. I am rather thinking about that, sticking to those expectations. I am just putting in the hard work, going about the processes. The results don’t matter as long as I’m putting in the hard work.”
Nair, who was bought by DD in 2016 for R4 crore, 40 times his base price of Rs10 lakh, had a great run in Karnataka’s back-to-back Ranji Trophy wins in 2013-14 and 2014-15.
Although batting conditions were tough in the India-Australia series, anxiety would have gnawed at a batsman who could not build on the reputation of having become only India’s second Test triple centurion, and only the third player in Test history to convert his maiden Test ton into a triple, emulating Gary Sobers and Bob Simpson.
Asked whether he approached chief coach Anil Kumble and batting coach Sanjay Bangar to discuss issues with his batting, Nair said, “Not at all. As I said, I was batting really well and there wasn’t any issue.”
After scoring his triple century on a good MA Chidambaram Stadium pitch (303* off 381 balls, 32x4, 4x6), Nair had declared it was all about ‘making hay when the sun shines”.
Will this IPL be something like that, once he gets going? “I’d like to start on a good note. For me, the more important thing is the team winning. That is what matters more than any individual target. It’s about taking the team to the closing stages of the tournament.”