Karun Nair

‘Key to playing Afghan spinners is to be watchful’ – Karun Nair

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Indian triple centurion keen to show off improved skills and fitness in comeback Test.

In the lead-up to Afghanistan’s historic maiden Test, against India in Bengaluru starting on Thursday 14 June, their captain, Asghar Stanikzai, had thrown down the gauntlet. “We have good spinners, better spinners than India,” he had said.

India’s Karun Nair, though, brushed aside the claim, pointing out that Afghanistan’s inexperience could work against them.

“That was a big statement to make, considering Afghanistan haven’t played Test cricket. All our spinners are proven wicket-takers in Test cricket, so there is nothing much to say there,” he said on Monday.

In Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohammad Nabi, Zahir Khan and Rahmat Shah, the debutants have a varied spin attack. But Nair insisted it was just a matter of the No.1 Test side being watchful.

"Most of us have played [Rashid] in the IPL, but this is a different ball game. This is a Test match and no one has played him in Tests. I don't think he has played too many red-ball games either. The key is to be watchful and take it as it comes."

As for Rahman, the young mystery spinner, Nair added, "Personally, I just read it out of the hand. I think that's the best way to play spin. He's obviously a good bowler but we just need to wait and watch what happens in this Test match.”

Rashid Khan is No.1 on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings for bowlers
Rashid Khan is No.1 on the MRF Tyres ICC T20I Rankings for bowlers

Nair, who bats in the middle-order, rose to prominence as only the second Indian to make a triple century in Test cricket after Virender Sehwag. His feat came against England in Chennai in December 2016. His form slipped after that, however, and it is only now, on the back of strong domestic performances, that he’s back in the side.

“It’s been a long time since my triple hundred. I don’t really think about it. It’s a good feeling to have such a milestone to your name, and to be the second person from India to score a triple century, but I have moved on," he said.

“I am looking to win matches for the team and play well in situations where my team needs me."

Delighted that his hard work had paid off with this comeback, Nair added, “I have improved my skills over the last two years and I have become much fitter. I have done a lot and scoring runs in domestic cricket really helps.

“I have worked on my fitness, my fielding and every aspect of the game. I know that I am a better batsman now than I was two years ago. I’d like to take that confidence into everything that I do.”

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