Karun Nair’s finest hour as a cricketer came in the fifth Test against England in 2016, when he became the second Indian batsman after Virender Sehwag to score a triple century. His 303 not out makes one forget all his other contemporary achievements and crucial knocks, like this fifty he scored on his VIVO Indian Premier League debut for Kings XI Punjab.
After winning the toss and choosing to field against the recently rechristened Delhi Capitals, KXIP faced a Gautam Gambhir masterclass with the Delhi skipper scoring 55 of 42 balls. However, the spin trio of Ravichandran Ashwin, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Axar Patel ensured the Delhi batters didn’t have a free reign at scoring, picking up wickets at crucial interjections of the game. Cameos from Rishabh Pant and Chris Morris who scored 28 and 27 respectively helped Delhi Capitals get a fighting score of 166/7 at the end of their 20 overs.
In reply, Kings XI got off to a flying start with Lokesh Rahul blazing 51 off just 16 balls. However, the wickets of openers Rahul and Mayank Agarwal left KXIP at 64/2 when Nair walked out to the middle. He crafted a cautious partnership with Yuvraj Singh before the southpaw departed back to the pavilion in the 10th over with the score at 97 for 3.
Nair’s controlled aggression helped KXIP stay in control of the run rate; and also kept the scoreboard ticking to avoid any final over jitters. The 27-year-old got to his half century in 33 balls, scoring 5 fours and 2 sixes before perishing in the 16th over to Daniel Christian.
However, Punjab were just 28 runs away from the target with 26 balls to spare; and their overseas brigade of David Miller and Marcus Stoinis got them over the line with an over to spare.
Nair’s calculated fifty against a challenging Delhi bowling attack of Trent Boult, Mohammed Shami, Amit Mishra and more helped the team to start off the season on a winning note; and made him a vital cog of the KXIP middle-order in the remainder of the tournament.
51st match (D/N), Indian Premier League at Chandigarh, April 8, 2018
Delhi Daredevils 166/7 (Gautam Gambhir 55, Mujeeb Ur Rahman 2/28) lost to
Kings XI Punjab 167 for 4 (KL Rahul 51, Karun Nair 50)