Karun Nair was picked in the squad for the first three Tests but did not get picked in the playing XI. Indian batsmen struggled to score, but, Nair was warming the benches. After the first three Tests, two new batsmen get called in but Nair is still on the bench. In the fourth Test, India suffer another batting collapse and Nair is still warming the benches.
The entire tour Nair has been on the sidelines of one of the most significant Test series of the year. He was picked in the squad for a reason, backed by the selectors for a reason: his domestic record. But why give his place to someone else in a dead rubber? Why rob him of a chance to prove his place in the side? A question that must have crossed minds of people who have been following the series closely.
Of the 6 Test matches the Karnataka batsman has played, he has scored 374 runs at an average of 62.33. The average might be a little delusional. He was not influential against Australia but the batsman has got a triple century against England. It might have been in favourable conditions on his home pitch in front of his homecrowd but a triple century is not a regular affair. Especially for a country that had two batsmen scoring triple centuries in Test till date.
Hanuma Vihari deserves to make his debut, his domestic performances have been a testimony of the talent and consistency he possesses. But, it wouldn’t take a second look for someone to come to a conclusion that the selection has been unfair for the 26-year-old.
If the team management had no plans of picking him in the squad, they could have let him go. He has not batted since the practice match against Essex. He has been away from the action for a month and a half, the time he could have utilised playing for India ‘A’, the team he happens to captain.
He could have played the quadrangular ‘A’ series, List A and First-Class matches. These games would have helped him make a case for himself to get selected in Asia Cup 2018 squad. He could have been there in place of Manish Pandey or Kedar Jadhav or Ambati Rayudu. Instead, he is busy warming benches.
Even former Indian captain Sunil Gavaskar was miffed with the decision. In the pre-match chat show on Sony Six, he said,
“He is not your favourite player. The selectors seem to have brought him. Don’t think the team management likes him. Karun Nair has every right to ask the team management why he is not in the team. He deserves an answer. You didn’t pick an extra specialist batsman earlier, but now that you have, Karun Nair deserves an answer.”
Others took to Twitter to voice their opinion on the burning issue as well:
India’s selectors have just made a damning statement of what they think of Karun Nair as a player. Very very hard on him. Would love to know what he was told when the team was announced.
— Harsha Bhogle (@bhogleharsha) September 7, 2018
Indian team is losing in England because of Virat Kohli’s overweening attitude. He plays favourites. Not picking Pujara in the first test, playing an unfit Ashwin in the 4th, and picking up Vihari ahead of Karun Nair are but a few of these examples. Great batsman, poor leader.
— Sanjay Dixit संजय (@Sanjay_Dixit) September 7, 2018
I have immense respect for, and am a huge fan too, of both Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli. But the selection of Hanuma Vihari ahead of Karun Nair is the mother and father of the duo’s baffling selections. Sorry! #ENGvIND
— Arun Gopalakrishnan (@statanalyst) September 7, 2018
Would not like to be Karun Nair right now. Sat through the Afghanistan Test and now the England series. Not considered when finally India adds a batsman.
— Saurabh Malhotra (@MalhotraSaurabh) September 7, 2018
Anyone who tells me that Hanuma Vihari has been picked because he has a bradman-like batting average…I will say rubbish. Vihari has been picked only because he can bowl bit of off-spin. Karun Nair has all the reasons to get furious now. @BCCI https://t.co/OSkLss9gRw
— G. S. Vivek (@GSV1980) September 7, 2018
I would not want to be Karun Nair today. Surely the management sees something in Vihari that they do not see in Karun. Vihari scores well could mean end of Karun’s chances because there is a home tour coming up before Australia. #ENGvIND
— Gaurav Sundararaman (@gaurav_sundar) September 7, 2018
By the way I think Karun Nair hard done by: not considered as opener, and loses out middle order place because Vihari reckoned to have some spin bowling ability and fits into team management’s 5-bowler theory https://t.co/Mj5OXwSx8X
— Cricketwallah (@cricketwallah) September 7, 2018
Shock Test debut for Hanuma Vihari (predictable after practice sessions last couple days, but still!) Meanwhile, Karun Nair is busy twiddling thumbs in some part of London. #EngvInd
— Chetan Narula (@chetannarula) September 7, 2018
It is a hard time to be Karun Nair. One can only wonder what the team management told him when he was not selected in the playing for the fifth time in a row. Careers are destroyed this way. Maybe it’s time to ask them. So, what was Karun Nair doing in England?