Karun Kaladharan Nair 23, made headlines when, by scoring 328 runs off 560 deliveries in the Final of the Ranji Trophy 2014-15, against Tamil Nadu, he bettered the individual best score of 319 runs scored by Baroda’s Gul Mohammad playing against Holkar in the Ranji Trophy Final 1946-47. The young Karnataka player was sent to Sri Lanka recently as a replacement for the injured Murali Vijay.
The Rajasthan Royal player took some time off his busy schedule to speak to our correspondent, Subramanian Krishnamurthi.
Here are the excerpts:
Q: Karun, how did cricket happen to you and not any other sport?
Karun: Like any kid, I started playing street cricket. My Mom thought it was a bit risky playing on the street and so she put me in an academy in Kormang8ala. I was about 10 years of age then.I enjoyed my stint in the academy.
Q: You, along with Naman Ojha, were sent as a replacement for the injured players in Sri Lanka. Did you expect the call? What was your first reaction when you got to know your being sent to Sri Lanka? Karun: Well, I was working hard, training hard and doing all that is possible to be done by me. Glad that I got the opportunity
Q: How was your experience in the recently conclude Triangular A series matches? Which was your best match?
Karun: It was a very good experience. We really played well. I could get good starts but unfortunately, could not convert them into big scores. However, I scored an unbeaten century (114*) against South Africa A at Wayanad. The experience was really worth. I have definitely gained in confidence.
Q: You made your First Class debut in 2013 against Punjab. Any memories about that game which you might want to share in terms of your physical and mental preparation, the dressing room atmosphere, the kind of welcome you received etc
Karun: I have been part of the dressing room for almost three years. It’s just that I made my debut in 2013. But then that was a good beginning.
Q: Your average in Ranji is very healthy at 53.62. Where do you go from here?
Karun: I think I can do better. I am really training and hope to do well in the coming season and try to win games for my team.
Q: Let us now shift focus to 8th March 2015, the day of the Ranji 2014-15 final game between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. What are your memories?
Karun: That was a wonderful day. I knew we were chasing a small total (134 runs scored Tamil Nadu). I knew we just had to play our natural game and the rest all will fall in place.
Q: You had scores of 9, 35, 2, 14, 63, 2, 36, 38, 6, 0, 31, 20, 48, 49*,28 adding up to 381 runs at an average of 27.21. But in this one game, you scored 328 runs from 560 deliveries making record after record on the way. What were you telling yourself? Were you thinking of any of those records that you surpassed?
Karun: I was not even aware of the record. It’s only after I scored 270, during drinks break I was told about me surpassing Vishwanath’s (Gundappa) record. Later on, I came to know about the record of Gul Mohammad (319 runs).
Q: You went into bat at the end of day 1 and batted till early day 4. How did you manage? What went through your mind at end of day 1, 2 and 3?
Karun: Well the end of Day 1, I had just gone into bat, but the end of Day 2, me and Rahul played almost the entire day and by end Day3, we had almost wrapped the match in our favor.
Q: What did KL Rahul tell you when both of you were batting together in the middle? Did you or he recall KL Rahul’s triple century earlier in the tournament?
Karun: No we”re just concentrating on the game on hand. We never discussed or recalled any record but just made sure that we stayed together and put up as many runs as possible.
Q: How has been your IPL experience? Which has been the game you enjoyed playing?
Karun: IPL has been a very good experience. We get to interact with our own senior players and other international players and share their experience. We get a lot of advice and guidance from them.The match that I enjoyed playing most was in 2014 when we (Rajasthan Royals) beat RCB in Bengaluru. I had scored 56 runs in that match.
Q: Prior to Rajasthan Royals you were with RCB. Did you feel more comfortable over there with stars and superstars around you in the dressing room and the dugout?
Karun: Well in RCB, I did not get many opportunities to play. But in RR, I got many chances and I made the best use of all of them.Comfort levelly depends on the individual players. As for me, I interact a lot with Steve Smith, Shane Watson, Rahul (Dravid) Bhai etc. We move around as a family supporting each other. Rahul Bhai is a great mentor.
Q: To what factor would you attribute your physical toughness?
Karun: I do my daily workouts. Go to the gym, stretching exercise etc as advised by the physical trainer.
Q: What are the plans for the current season? How are you training?
Karun: I am really training hard. I really want to do well and be instrumental in winning games for my team
Q: Are you comfortable with the shorter form of the longer one? How do you adjust yourself?
Karun: I am comfortable playing in all formats of the game. Not many changes are needed. You need to play the correct cricketing shots to be successful in the respective formats.
Q: Do you think you are ready to make an entry into the national team?
Karun: Yes I am, as I said, training and working hard and doing my best at every available opportunity. Rest of it, I will take as it comes
Q: Where do you see yourself in another three years from now?
Karun: I think I would have made a mark in international level by that time
Q: Are you idolizing anyone, If so who is that?
Karun: Yes, since my childhood days, I have been idolizing Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid and look upon to them even now
Q: How good are you academically?
Karun: Well, I could not complete my BCom. I need to find time to do it. I don’t know when it will happen
Q: Do you look at yourself leading Team India sometime in the future?
Karun: Well every player would want to lead his national side at the international level. I am also dreaming of doing it. I have the right kind of attitude and approach required of a leader