Karun Nair may not have scored a mountain of runs on India-A's tour of South Africa this month, but he scored some important ones. On the final day of the second unofficial Test, he led from the front as captain, making a crucial 90 as India-A completed a potentially tricky run chase to level the series.

It was an important knock in the context of Nair's career as well, for the 25-year-old was dropped from the Indian Test team for the Sri Lanka series following a poor run of scores against Australia.

“It was quite a fighting 90 because chasing 225 in the last innings on a fourth day wicket is not easy,..and I hadn't got runs before that, so there are many things playing on your mind,” he said. “I had to really grind it out. It was a tough wicket as well: slow and low, not like South Africa. I enjoyed it.”

It was disappointing, Nair admitted, to be out of the Test side. “Obviously everyone's disappointed when you don't make it to the Test squad but I took it in my stride,” he said. “I was not making use of my starts (during a lean patch through the summer). It doesn't matter where I play; I just need to be getting runs and hopefully if I do that, I'll be back. ”

Last season, Nair led Karnataka in two games in the Ranji Trophy, filling in for Vinay Kumar, and the team won both fixtures, against Delhi and Assam. Earlier this year, he captained a struggling Delhi Daredevils three times in the IPL, presiding over two victories. The two unofficial Tests in South Africa have thus done Nair's credentials as a leader no harm.

“It was a different kind of challenge because I had to handle 11 different people from different states,” he said of skippering India-A. “It was hard because you haven't played along with them and you don't know them as people. But I really enjoyed it and it gives me more experience to handle guys. It'll help me in the future.”

What was it like to be captain at a young age, Nair was asked. “I don't think I'm too young,” he smiled. “I think I'm at a good age to captain. To lead an IPL side was something I'd never even dreamt of. I was really privileged and happy that the Delhi Daredevils management showed faith in me. We enjoyed playing those three matches. All I said to the boys was that we were a young team and so we had to play like a young team, with energy and enthusiasm and without fear.”

Nair's immediate assignment is to lead Mysuru Warriors in the Karnataka Premier League. Success there as captain could suddenly open more doors.