Duleep Trophy: India Red's Karun Nair shines in drawn contest

Karun Nair hit an unbeaten 166 for India Red before its Duleep Trophy match against India Blue ended in a draw on Monday.

Supreme touch: Karun Nair scored an unbeaten 166. (File picture)   -  Sudhakara Jain

India Red batsman Karun Nair underlined his class with an unbeaten 166, in a drawn Duleep Trophy outing against India Blue at Alur (1) ground here on Monday. The chanceless knock helped Karun erase the heartbreak of being dismissed for 99 in the first essay.

The 27-year-old reached his century in style, stepping out to left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar and lofting the ball over mid-off. He was on his way to a double hundred, but with no result in sight, the teams agreed to a draw and walked off the field at the stroke of Tea.

India Red (3 points) sealed a spot in the final, while both India Green (1 point) and India Blue (2 points) are both in contention for the other final berth. India Red takes on India Green in the last league match, commencing at Alur grounds here on Thursday.

Callous attitude

While Karun was in supreme touch, he was helped by the callous attitude of the India Blue team. With not much but pride at stake, the fielders were plainly disinterested, taking things easy with a laugh and idle chat.

This was best illustrated in the afternoon session, when substitute fielder Shreyas Gopal hurled a wild throw to the wicketkeeper Snell Patel from long-on. Snell, clearly not expecting the action to come his way, failed to collect. The overthrow headed to the third-man fence, but none of the fielders bothered to stop the ball.

The batsmen, Karun and Harpreet Singh Bhatia, meanwhile, were initially hesitant to make the effort to run, before better sense prevailed and they picked up an extra double. Eyebrows were raised again in the same over, when the third-man fielder tested his arm with a throw to the bowler’s end. It was completely off target, leaving
Gopal to clean up at long-on.

On occasions, a fielder patrolled the 30-yard circle with the helmet on, having just moved there from silly point.

The India Blue players made it clear that their minds and focus had drifted far away from the cricket.

Passive skipper

Skipper Shubman Gill was much too passive, and did little to set his straying mates straight. Gill made matters worse by bringing himself into the attack, and struggled through five poor overs. Before this, the Punjab youngster had bowled just two overs in First Class and List A combined, and it was abundantly clear that his talents were best served with the bat.

Jalaj Saxena bowled with purpose, picking up four wickets. File Photo: K. Pichumani

 

The proceedings, witnessed by national selectors Jatin Paranjpe and Gagan Khoda, fell well below the standards expected from a first-class encounter. Off-spinner Jalaj Saxena proved to be the exception, showing admirable commitment. He bowled with purpose, and picked up four wickets.

Brief scores

India Red 285 and 297 for six declared in 88 overs (Karun Nair 166 n.o., Ankit Kalsi 64, Jalaj Saxena four for 105) drew with India Blue 255.

Points: India Red: 3, India Blue: 1.

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