Karun Nair, once we hear this name, there's only one inning that pops in our mind. Do you believe it has been almost five years since the exceptional feat took place?
Well, for the ones who don't remember or the rare ones who aren't even aware of this, Karun Nair, on December 19, 2016, became only the third cricketer to convert his maiden Test century into a triple-century and in turn, also became the youngest Indian (25y 10 days) to score a triple century breaking the record of former Indian opener Virender Sehwag.
Yes, not double but triple. Not just that, Karun Nair became only the second Indian batsman to score 300 runs or more in Test Cricket in a single innings behind the legendary Virender Sehwag.
Yay ! Welcome to the 300 club @karun126 .— Virender Sehwag (@virendersehwag) December 19, 2016
It was very lonely here for the last 12 years 8 months.
Wish you the very best Karun.Maza aa gaya!
It was the fifth and the ultimate Test between India and England and the venue was Chennai. To put his performance into perspective, Karun Nair scored a 303* in his third Test, while Sehwag contrived to accomplish the feat in his 34th Test. His innings was lauded by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi as well.
A player who was born in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, was diagnosed with weak lungs but little did the world know that this youngster would produce one of the finest innings by an Indian in Tests.
As mentioned earlier, Virender Sehwag, who managed to be the first Indian to score 300 in his 34th Test innings, was still a batsman who had already cemented his spot in the Indian top order.
Was it the case with Karun Nair?
After his remarkable Test innings, Karun Nair, just like most of us felt that the chances he will come faster to him now. However, the reality was something else. After the England series, India faced Bangladesh in February 2017, and Karun Nair wasn't included in the playing XI in the very next Test match after his unbeaten 303.
Unimaginable, isn't it? The reason was the return of India's then Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane who was replaced by Nair. After warming the benches for the next Test against Australia, Karun Nair was roped in for the second Test that was in Bengaluru.
Unfortunately, Nair scored a combined 26 in two innings in his first Test against Australia, he didn't turn up in the next few Tests as well. Later as the series concluded, Karun Nair was dropped.
The Domestic revival
Domestic cricket came at the right moment for him as he featured in the 2017/18 Ranji Trophy and excelled in every way possible. He fired 612 runs in only seven games, with an average of 68. These performances led to the selectors calling him again for the one-off Test against Afghanistan, followed by an England tour which was his actual aim.
The incessant disappointment
To begin with, he was not a part of the only Test match against Afghanistan. He would've hoped that his chance was coming at a place that probably mattered more to him.
But what followed was something you wouldn't wish to happen with a budding youngster. Nair wasn't included in the playing XI in any of the five Tests but what must have been exasperating for him was the fact that Hanuma Vihari, who was roped in as an injury-replacement got to debut in the fifth Test at the Oval while Nair stayed on the bench.
There was more to the story as Nair was then dropped ahead of the series against West Indies and Vihari was into the pecking order, with Nair left to repent.
Such inexplicable decisions took an obvious toll on Nair as he lost his focus that made his numbers worse in the domestic circuit,
especially the 2018-19 season.
The ups and downs
Nair made a strong comeback in the 2019-20 season for India Red but he continued to struggle in the Ranji Trophy. It felt like he had lost faith, and had started to look bewildered on the pitch.
However, bad times prevailed as a poor Vijay Hazare Trophy, disheartening Syed Mushtaq Ali, with disappointment in the IPL made things worse.
As things stand, Karun Nair is a player who has just become a memory in international cricket. With the competition that exists for a spot in the Indian Test sides, Nair's comeback is close to impossible. But you never know, he once replaced Ajinkya Rahane temporarily, maybe this time he could replace him for a longer period.
What's next for Karun Nair?
Well, everything is not over for Karun Nair. To start with, he still has age on his side and he can at least continue playing for the next 5-6 years.
However, things are not going to come easy. Nair is one of those examples who was very unfortunate to not have been provided with ample opportunities. He would hope that he paves away into the Indian side by performing in exquisite fashion in Domestic Cricket for Karnataka and also in the Indian Premier League.
Do you think it was unfair on the triple centurion? Did team India lose a Test cricketing mastero? Do let us know in the comments your thoughts on the Karnatakian's destiny. Do you think the 29-year old should be given an opportunity in the longest format, especially considering the shaky Indian middle-order now?