New Delhi, December 19
With scores of 4 and 13 in his first two Test innings, Karun Nair had to make his third count; especially taking in to account that India’s first innings of the fifth India v England Test at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai would probably be his last innings before the regulars (Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma) get fit and take their spot for India’s next Test outing (against Bangladesh in February next year).
And to say that he made it count would be a gross understatement. With a knock of 303 not out – in only his third Test innings – on Day 4 of the final Test, Nair not only helped India to their highest ever team total in Tests (759/7), but allowed his stature to grow as someone who is more than ready to cement a place in the No.1 Test team’s XI.
The 25-year-old has an appetite for batting long, with panache, and that was on full display for the Chennai crowd on Monday. A once-in-a-life time batting performance some would say, but then again, Nair has to his name a score of 328 in a Ranji Trophy final. Nair featured in partnerships of 161 with KL Rahul, 181 with Ravichandran Ashwin and 138 with Ravindra Jadeja. He batted for 381 balls, hit 32 boundaries and four big sixes. Skill was top notch, the temperament ice cold and stamina – well he would have gone on and on if the innings was not declared. India managed only 72 runs in the first session, out of which 51 were scored by Nair off 81 balls. Then he picked up the pace and went on to take his next 73 off 85 balls. The pitch offered almost nothing for the England bowlers and they struggled to contain the Karnataka batsman. After tea, Nair simply toyed with the bowlers. Out went the technically correct drives and cuts and in came the slog sweeps and the flat batted assault that fetched him another 108 runs off just 76 balls en route to his epic 303*- becoming only the second Indian batsman after Virender Sehwag to score a triple ton in Test cricket. He now is the only batsman to convert his maiden 100 into a triple and sixth youngest batsman in history to reach the landmark. His score of 303* is now the third highest individual score for India in Tests. Ashwin (57) notched up his fourth fifty for the series and his strokeplay was as usual elegant, but it was Nair’s batting that deserves not just a mention but grand applause. He reached the pitch of the deliveries well and drove superbly, He rocked back to the back of the length deliveries in a jiffy and cut well to bisect the gap and then got down on his knees to sweep the ball with authority. He is one player who is like a juggernaut when on song and it felt he was finding the gaps at will as the England bowlers toiled had without any success.
Jadeja joined in the fun with a breezy 55-ball 51 run knock while Murali Vijay missed out on a good batting wicket departing for 29 in the morning session. Liam Dawson and Stuart Broad took two wickets each while Ben Stokes, England’s best bowler on show on Day 4, went wicketless. In reply, in walked Alastair Cook, with the knowledge that he had dropped Nair on 34 on Day 4, along with Keaton Jennings and played out the remaining five overs in the day to take England 12 for no loss, with a deficit of
New Delhi, December 19