Duleep Trophy: Karun Nair’s unbeaten 92 take India Red to 163/2 on rain-curtailed day
Karun Nair (IANS Photo)

Out-of-favour batsman Karun Nair struck 92 not out to help India Red score 163 for 2 on a rain-curtailed opening day of the Duleep Trophy match against India Blue in Mumbai on Friday. Sent in to bat at the Aluru Cricket Stadium, India Red suffered an early jolt as Bengal opener Abhimanyu Easwaran (0) was sent packing by Rajasthan left-arm paceman Aniket Choudhary, who trapped him leg-before with his third delivery.

Easwaran’s fall in the very first over left India Red at 3 for 1. Skipper Priyank Panchal, a prolific scorer for Baroda in domestic cricket, was joined by Nair and the duo negotiated the early spells of Choudhary and Kerala pacer Basil Thampi.

Panchal (15) and Nair added 40 runs in a little over 15 overs, before the captain nicked one from Services medium-pacer Diwesh Pathania to ‘keeper’ Snell Patel. Nair, who has been out of the national side after the 2017 Test series against Australia, started brightly and played some stylish flicks apart from some crisp drives.

After the fall of Panchal, the Karnataka batsman forged a 120-run partnership with Himachal left-hander Ankit Kalsi (48 not out, 171 balls, 4 x4) for the unbroken third wicket stand before rain and bad light ended play early.

While Nair hit several attractive shots, his partner played a stodgy knock, and ensured that India Red went through the day unscathed.

Nair has so far faced 189 balls and hit nine boundaries.

Kalsi was lucky to survive a dropped chance by Ricky Bhui off a delivery bowled by off-spinner Jalaj Saxena’s when he was on 34. Chaudhary (1 for 29) and Pathania (1 for 27) finished with a wicket each.

Play was called after 68 overs as the skies opened up.

Rain had affected the opening fixture between India Blue and India Green with play being washed out on the second, third and fourth days after a truncated opening day.

Brief Scores: India Red 163 for 2 in 68 overs (Karun Nair 92 batting, Ankit Kalsi 48 batting; Diwesh Pathania 1/27, Aniket Choudhary 1/29) vs India Blue