Cricket

‘Always knew Karun was special’

WILLING HIM ON: As Karun Nair was going about his business at Chepauk, his colleagues on the Karnataka Ranji Trophy team took time off their practice session at the RSI ground in Bengaluru to follow his progress on a mobile phone.

WILLING HIM ON: As Karun Nair was going about his business at Chepauk, his colleagues on the Karnataka Ranji Trophy team took time off their practice session at the RSI ground in Bengaluru to follow his progress on a mobile phone.  

B. Shivanand, Karun Nair’s childhood coach, is over the moon.

Even as a pre-teen it was clear that Karun was destined for great things, says Shivanand.

“He joined my academy (the Koramangala Cricket Academy) on March 28, 2001. I still remember that day clearly. His family had moved to Bengaluru a year before that,” he recalls.

“The first time I saw him, I knew he was special. I told his father that day: ‘Your son is not an ordinary player. He’ll play for India one day’.

“His timing was that good!”

Shivanand speaks of how he often encouraged his star ward to compete against his seniors. “When he was only 13, he played an under-19 inter-academy match in Chikkamagaluru.” he says.

“We were in big trouble at 48 for six, chasing 227. Karun was the opener, and he made an unbeaten 126 to win us the match. We needed nine off the last over; Karun scored 12.”

Karnataka head coach J. Arunkumar has watched Karun record a triple-century once before. In the 2014-15 Ranji Trophy final, the middle-order batsman scored 328 to lead his side past Tamil Nadu.

“I’m really happy that he got 300, but I’m not surprised. Once he made 140, we knew that rhythm had set in, and that he was set for a big score. We have seen him do this before,” says Arunkumar.

Karun did appear to be shaky as he approached the century milestones, but Arunkumar says he kept the faith. “Contrary to what everyone thinks, when Karun was in the 190s and the 290s, I was not tense. Whenever he gets to the 90s, he plays 20-25 balls and then finishes his century,” he says.

“Karun was most probably thinking ‘I’ll play aaram se (relaxed), you bowl the bad balls, and I will get the century. I’ve got all day’. This attitude makes the bowlers more tense than the batsman,” says Arunkumar.

The match could have been even more special for Karnataka had K.L. Rahul reached his double-hundred.

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Printable version | Aug 12, 2020 10:03:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/cricket/%E2%80%98Always-knew-Karun-was-special%E2%80%99/article16906915.ece

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