The Chennai Test was supposed to be a match that held no significance that was huge in the series.
On his Test debut, he was run out by an unhealthy call from his captain, Virat Kohli. The apology for it arrived after in the dressing room, apparently. Last year, playing along with Kohli for India A, Nair had impressed scoring a 50 and a 32 in a low-scoring match against Australia A. Shortly after the series ended, India were touring Sri Lanka for a three-Test series and Nair got an immediate call-up as an injury replacement. But he needed to wait longer for his Test debut and when it arrived finally in Mohali in this string, that unfortunate run out resulted.
Like in his first Test, he'd only one chance as well but failed to capitalize. Judging by the way in which the pitch was playing in Chennai, it was not unlikely that he might have realised that he would get just once opportunity here as well. Be remembered, and he needed to make this one count. But Nair denied being burdened going into the game. "There's definitely pressure going into a Test match, and so I wouldn't say that I was feeling any pressure," he said evenly, at the end of fourth day's play.
There was the familiar face of Rahul to welcome him at the center, when he walked out to bat with clear nerves. That 166-run stand with Rahul helped him did remaining not out on 71, and earn plenty of confidence. The fourth day was his.
His mother Prema K Nair, a school teacher by profession, had missed courses to be here. And she was a nervous one, for putting a jinx, blaming herself. In the final Test, just as she walked into the room where the match was on, Nair got out, she recollected. She was anxious early today in the initial session as her son neared a maiden hundred. His daddy Kaladharan Nair, who claims to have never missed a match that Karun has played in since he was a child, used to record games for her to watch later. He was the one who shoved him towards cricket following the boy revealed some inclination that is early for the sport.
For the Nairs, there was a driving variable to get their boy into sports in particular. Born early, do physical exercises as treatment and a young Karun had weak lungs and was advised to play sports. Cricket came phoning then. His mom, like most Indian parents, was inclined to push him through a vocation in education but Kaladharan insists he would encourage him to play the sport a lot more, having played it as a kid himself. His intention wasn't overly low for his son. He simply wanted Karun to play for the state somehow. The dream ended there. But a stupendous first season in first- class cricket and followed by another saw Karun break into the Indian team. Everything from then on was imagined to be a blessing.
The family and Karun hit immediately after. This past year, when the family had gone to to get a religious offering to Allepey, Kerala as thanksgiving for his India call-up, the boat in which Karun was travelling capsized. A sudden outburst of current in the water, toppled the long boats, famous in Kerala. Nair was rescued but a relative who'd organized for the excursion, sadly, passed away. "He is a shy boy," says Kaladharan. Karun does not open up about the tragedy to his family.
Cricket comes as a welcome distraction. "Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar, he discusses a great deal about them," says Kaladharan on Karun's cricketing idols.
It wasn't that Nair scored his first hundred in cricket. It came against a Saurashtra team that also comprised Ravindra Jadeja.Years after today, Karun was batting with Jadeja, putting on 148, as India were chasing a proclamation keeping his impending milestone in the vanguard. "Once I crossed 250, the team management had particular strategies of going after the bowling and declaring. Therefore I think inside the space of five overs I got to 280 285, that is when I began thinking and Jaddu kept egging me on not to throw it away and get to 300 easily," said Karun. His last fifty came off just 33 balls while he moved from 200 to 300 in just 75, as he registered a unique place in the record books for himself as being the quickest - in only his third match - to get the landmark.
The switch in gears was driven by his sweeps against spin. Challenging, within the course of the knock as well as in the gaps, along the floor, the Nair-sweep was becoming a brand. "I 've played the sweep shot nearly all my life. You do need certainly to practise a whole lot. You need to work at it. It really is my goto shot whenever I want some boundaries," he says.
Karun says there's nothing much he does to change his game although his skill to play in different gears was also shown by the knock in certain ways. "It's just the mental approach that shifts. In Test matches, obviously you've got much more time to get settled and play big. I believe the approach doesn't shift at all. I don't play any distinct shots in any other format."
But as the landmarks came closer, Nair got them showing no signals of nerves that had taken over Rahul. Alastair Cook was using similar subjects as well. "Clearly there is some nerves going on," confessed Karun. He'd seen his buddy Rahul missing out on a big milestone yesterday at the opposite end. "You can not be thinking negative at that stage. Simply get over that instant and you have to observe the ball. You just have to feel that instant, being there," said India's second triple-centurion.
There was empathy, clearly, for Rahul. "Like he said, we started playing cricket together. It is just that we have been together since then. At each phase, if he has gone ahead I've caught up. Or if I have gone ahead, he's caught up. Therefore I believe that healthy rivalry is great. I feel bad for him that he did not get the double hundred but I believe he'll get one really shortly."
The pitch was not the most challenging but Karun's innings was far from perfect. This was a milestone which wasn't to elude him although he was dropped twice and survived a stumping opportunity. Nonetheless,seemingly none of it was getting to the head of the 25-year old."He Is an incredibly dim character," said his father.
"I believe it will take several days to sink in," said Karun around the size of the achievement. "There are a great deal of things that go into my head that I wish to do but at that instant it just does not come out. I believe I will have to get more hundreds for me to show emotion," he said using a laugh.