Nair’s omission defies logic
Chandigarh, September 30
Karun Nair, dropped from the Indian Test squad for the forthcoming series against West Indies without being given a single Test during the tour of England, must be wondering — ‘What did I do wrong?’
Since he scored a sensational 303 not out against England in Chennai in December 2016, Nair has been given only three Test matches. He didn’t cover himself in glory in those three matches, getting 54 runs in the four innings he got to play, all against Australia in March 2017. After his last Test, against Australia in Dharamsala, India have played 15 Tests, across Sri Lanka, India, South Africa and England. Nair didn’t get another chance. On the recent tour of England, India blooded Hanuma Vihari, who was not in the squad originally, but Nair was kept in the wings. Sunil Gavaskar, for one, was vocal about the injustice to Nair in England.
“What has Karun Nair done not to get in? I know he has not been your favourite player. You don’t want to pick him. He scores a triple hundred. You leave him out. He fails in a couple of games. You leave him out,” Gavaskar said during the tour of England. “You have brought him back in the team. It could be the selectors who have brought him back. The team management probably doesn’t want him. And that’s why they haven’t given him the opportunity to play in this game.”
The injustice to Nair has been compounded by dropping him for the squad for the West Indies Tests, and this reflects poorly on the selectors.
The omission of Rohit Sharma, on the other hand, makes sense. Sharma scored 177 and 111 not out in his first two Test innings. He then went 34 innings without scoring a 100, though he did get 7 50s in this duration. His average in Tests is 39.97, propped up by his first two innings.
But in ODIs, he’s the Boss. He’s got 3 100s in his last 10 ODI innings, apart from two half-centuries. After he led India to the Asia Cup title in Dubai, there has been a clamour for his inclusion in Test cricket. He’s only 31, so he still has time — can he rebuild his Test career? Perhaps he can, but it seems that he’s found his forte in ODI cricket. He’s already been given 25 Tests, and a man of his talent should have made his place in the XI by now — if he had been determined enough. The selectors were not swayed by his Asia Cup form and leadership, and they were right.
The same holds true for Shikhar Dhawan, who has been dropped from the Test squad. He was the Player of the Tournament in the Asia Cup, but his Test returns have been paltry for quite some time. Dhawan has been making comebacks into the Test XI after scoring heavily in limited-overs cricket. But his technique is exposed when he travels outside Asia — he averages 61 in Asia, but the average drops to 18 in Africa, 20.28 in England and 27.83 in Australia. He’s a fantastic strokeplayer, but not quite the Test opener India needs in challenging conditions.