India vs England, 5th Test: Ignored Karun Nair needs an answer, fumes Sunil Gavaskar
Karun Nair has been on the bench for five Tests in England. @Getty

Sunil Gavaskar has come down on hard on the Indian team’s repeated ignoring of middle-order batsman Karun Nair in England and for handing a debut to Andhra batsman Hanuma Vihari for the fifth Test against Joe Root’s team, after he came into the squad as a replacement.

While Nair has been part of India’s squad all series, without getting a look-in despite India’s repeated batting struggles, Vihari was added for the fourth and fifth Test at Kia Oval.

On Friday, shortly before the toss ahead of the fifth and final Test between India and England at Kia Oval, the BCCI tweeted images of Vihari receiving his first international cap. After the toss, while speaking on Sony Six, Gavaskar was furious at the team’s decision to once again keep Nair – who in 2016 became only the second Test triple-centurion for India – out of the XI.

“Karun Nair has every right to ask the team management why he is not in the team,” said Gavaskar. “He deserves an answer. You didn’t pick an extra specialist batsman earlier, but now that you have, Karun Nair deserves an answer. He is not your favourite player. The selectors seem to have brought him. I don’t think the team management likes him.”

Nair played the last of his six Test matches against Australia at Dharamsala in March 2017. The 26-year-old was recalled as a batting replacement option for the Afghanistan Test in June but did not get selected. As captain India A in England, Nair registered first-class scores of 20, 93, 42, 55 and 2. In the tour match before the start of the Test series, he made 4 against a depleted Essex.

Vihari, 24, was handed his first India call-up when the BCCI selectors named the squad for the fourth and fifth Tests in England. This came after he scored 4010 runs in six games for India A, which included four List A games and two four-day matches. In the two unofficial Tests against West Indies, he had scores of 37, 10, 4 and 68. Back in India for India A’s four-day games versus South Africa A, Vihari made 54, 148 and 0 and was then called to England to link up with the Test squad.

Vihari has been a regular when it comes to spending cricket summer in England. During the 2014 and 2015 season, he played for Hutton CC in the Shepherd Neame Essex First Division League, scoring six centuries.