India A opener comes good in Townsville as battle for ODI spots heats up

Karun Nair’s 72 against the National Performance Squad in Townsville yesterday was more than his entire team managed when their Quadrangular Series kicked off just a week prior, and now the India A opener will be looking to add more runs to his name with an eye to the national side’s home ODI series against New Zealand in October. Nair turned heads on Sunday with a classy 72 from 85 balls, an innings that particularly showcased his excellence against spin bowling and underscored the visitors’ rapid improvement since they posted just 55 against Australia A the previous Sunday.

Promising young Australian spinners Mitch Swepson and Arjun Nair had their hands full against the right-hander, who used his feet expertly and mixed finesse with force to find the boundary on seven occasions. Nair debuted for India in ODIs in June, when they took a squad missing a host of big names to Zimbabwe. The 24-year-old produced modest returns of 7 and 39, failing to cash in against a weaker opposition where others – most notably KL Rahul, who made an unbeaten century on debut – took their chances.

At the time, the Delhi Daredevils batsman said he was simply excited to have been picked in an India touring party led by MS Dhoni. “You have (higher honours) at the back of your mind when you are scoring runs, but it’s still a surprise when you get that call,” Nair told the Times of India in May. “I won’t lie and say I did not think about it, because I feel I’ve been batting well for Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, which was an extension of the form I had in the past domestic season. “But to see your name in India’s squad is a great feeling. “I am especially happy because I will get the chance to play under MS Dhoni, hopefully, which I never expected. “That is a real honour and I am really looking forward to it. He is a legend.”