Bengaluru, June 11: December 19, 2016 had signalled the arrival of another batting star from India stables - Karun Nair. It was on that day Karun made his triple hundred, second by an Indian after Virender Sehwag, against England at Chennai.
But since then a series of low scores - 26, 0, 23, and 5 - ensured - fair or unfair you term - that Karun would not get picked up for the Indian team. But now he is back for the historic one-off Test against Afghanistan at the M Chinnswamy Stadium in Bengaluru from Thursday (June 14).
"I am very happy to make a comeback to the Test squad," Nair said on Monday (June 11). "I'm really excited to be given another opportunity, it has been a while now. I have worked very hard over the last one and a half years. I know that I have become better. I am really excited," said Karun.
On the journey that enabled him to make a comeback, Karun said: "I have become fitter. For one-and-a-half years, I have been out of the team and making efforts to improve my skills. I have worked on my batting and fitness. I scored runs in domestic cricket. I know for myself, I am a better batsman than what I was two years ago," said Karun.
After the Test against Afghanistan, Karun will lead India 'A' on tour to England but the Karnataka right-hander said his focus is firmly set on the Test match.
"For me, there is still a long way to go. I still have this Test match to play and an 'A' series thereafter. I am not thinking so far ahead. Obviously preparations also are going on for 'A' series. First and foremost, I would like to do well in this Test match and then move on," said Karun.
Karun, however, did not forget to count the significance of 'A' tours. "The 'A' series bridges the gap between international cricket and domestic. Otherwise, there would be too much of a gap. Players getting a chance in the 'A' series is good for their preparation.
"If you get to go overseas it's better, and we're getting to go to England. For most of us, that's going to be the first trip to England, and it being before India's tour of England, it's really good," said Karun.
Afghanistan player Asghar Stanikzai had said that his team has spinners than India, but Karun thought the statement was the outcome of the Afghans' excitement in playing their maiden Test.
"That's a pretty big statement to make, considering they haven't played Test cricket. All of our spinners have proven themselves in Test cricket. Most of us have played Rashid (Khan) in the IPL but this is a different ball game.
"I don't think he has played too many red-ball games so he's inexperienced. The same with Mujeeb (Ur Rahman). He's good but we don't know about how he is in Test cricket," Karun said.