Sunil Gavaskar questions Karun Nair's omission from the playing XI

Sunil Gavaskar questions Karun Nair’s omission from the playing XI

Karun Nair hasn't played even a single game on this tour.

Karun Nair
India’s Karun Nair during a nets session. (Photo by Mike Egerton/PA Images via Getty Images)

India saw yet another player making his Test debut in England on Friday but former captain Sunil Gavaskar was not happy with the decision. The visitors roped in batsman Hanuma Vihari in place of Hardik Pandya for the fifth and final Test at the Oval and the decision left him livid as he thought it was an injustice to Karun Nair, who has been travelling with the Test squad since the beginning.

India made a couple of changes in their playing XI, opting for an extra batsman in 24-year-old Vihari besides spinner Ravindra Jadeja for an injured Ravichandran Ashwin. Virat Kohli’s men have already lost the series after suffering a 60-run defeat in the fourth Test in Southampton last week. They aim to salvage some pride in this Test and dropped Pandya who has had an ordinary series excepting picking one five-wicket haul.

He deserves an explanation

For the 69-year-old, picking Vihari ahead of Nair was not right. The former Indian opener told Sony Six in a pre-match show, “He (Karun Nair) is not your favourite player. The selectors seem to have brought him. Don’t think the team management likes him. Karun Nair has every right to ask the team management why he is not in the team. He deserves an answer. You didn’t pick an extra specialist batsman earlier, but now that you have, Karun Nair deserves an answer. What has Karun Nair done not to get selected … its utter nonsense,” he fumed.

However, Sunil Gavaskar wished all the luck to Vihari who made his international debut and felt that he makes full use of this opportunity.

Only Indian batsman to score 300 other than Sehwag

Nair, 26, played only one game in the entire tour of England and it was the only warm-up game that the visitors played against Essex at Chelmsford ahead of the first Test at Edgbaston. He scored just four batting way down the order and never got a chance to play again. Nair is the only Indian batsman in history to score a triple hundred in Tests other than Virender Sehwag and he did it against England in Chennai in December 2016.

He played the last of his six Tests against Australia in Dharamsala in March 2017 and averages over 62 in seven Test innings, thanks to his only international hundred – a 303 not out.

Vihari, on the other hand, has an impressive domestic record behind him and slammed a big hundred for India ‘A’ against South Africa ‘A’ in his last game at home. He was called along with Prithvi Shaw in the squad for the last two Tests and while the speculation was rife that Shaw could make his debut in place of an out-of-form KL Rahul, it was Vihari who made the cut eventually as India’s 292nd Test cap.

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