Former Indian skipper Sunil Gavaskar has criticised the selection process of the Indian cricket team over the decision of not playing Karun Nair in the fifth Test between England and India at the Oval in London. Nair has been a part of the 18-man squad for the tour of England but flamboyant all-rounder Hardik Pandya got the nod for the four Tests. However, all-rounder Hanuma Vihari got the debut in the Oval Test instead of Karun Nair. Vihari also has been in superb form and averages 59 in first-class cricket.
Gavaskar was fuming with the selection process and failed to see a proper reason for overseeing Nair, who smashed a triple century recently.
"There is no argument that is going to ever satisfy me," Gavaskar said on a pre-match show following the toss.
"What has Karun Nair done not to get in? I know he has not been your favourite player. You don't want to pick him. He scores a triple hundred. He fails in a couple of games [against Australia in the rest of the series]. You leave him out. You have brought him back in the team. It could be the selectors who have brought him back. The team management probably doesn't want him. And that's why they haven't given him the opportunity to play in this game.
"How many Indians have got triple hundreds? Virender Sehwag twice and Karun Nair once. You don't give that man an opportunity. So what are you trying to tell him? 'Look we don't think you are a good player?,' Gavaskar said.
However, Gavaskar wished Hanuma Vihari all the best but said that Nair has every right to ask the management why he was not picked.
"All the best to Hanuma Vihari. I really wish him well. Karun Nair has every right to ask the team management what he has done wrong. He deserves an answer. 'Why am I not picked?' If you are going to pick an extra batsman, which they should have done from the first Test itself, and if you haven't given him the opportunity, he deserves an answer."
Nair’s case is the exactly the same as of Ajinkya Rahane in the Australia series in 2011-12 when he was ignored in the lineup which included the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
Following Dravid’s and Laxman’s retirement, Yuvraj Singh got the nod for the England series and Ravindra Jadeja was picked when Yuvraj was dropped from the team, denting the hopes of Rahane to play in the fourth Test in Nagpur.
Unlike Nair, Vihari can bowl a bit of off-spin, which looks like to have helped his case. But, Vihari has only 19 wickets from his 63 first-class appearances.
England are 198/7 after the end of Day 1 of the Oval Test, with Alastair Cook scoring 71 runs in the first innings of his farewell Test match.