(Karun- fifth from left in the bottom row, Shashidhar is third from left in the upper row and Browne is 6th from left on upper row)
Fifty year old Shashidhar N still remembers the first time he met Karun Nair. It was in the early 2000s and Karun was a 4th standard student of the Chinmayi School in Bengaluru. Shashidhar, the cricket coach of Frank Anthony Public School and the then Principal Anthony Browne spotted the young kid playing with a straight bat.
“Unlike other kids of his age, he was looking for singles. He was willing to rotate the strike,” says Shashidhar, sitting in the games room at the school on Monday evening.
A few hours ago, his old student Karun Nair had made the country proud by becoming the second Indian to score a triple hundred in an international test match.
Impressed by Karun’s technique, Shashidhar and Browne then approached his parents, asking them to enroll the gifted boy in their school. “We had a very good team then. Karun’s school did not have a cricket team of its own. His parents readily shifted him to FAPS.”
(Karun is in the bottom row, fourth from left)
Shashidhar says Karun was always a quiet boy, focused on his practice. “Those days we used to practice from 6 am to 8 am and again from 3.30 pm to 5.30 pm. He would practice diligently, never missing a day. In the days when there was no practice at school, he used to attend classed at the Koramangala cricket club near his house,” he says.
Karun Nair was a consistent performer from his early days and was keen on staying unbeaten till the end of the innings. “He was consistent, no ups and downs. Batting was his main forte, but he also used to bowl off spin,” says Shashidhar.
(Karun getting an award after the Under 16 Parle Cup)
During those years, the school did not have a turf ground and many parents contributed to create one. The school clearly remembers Karun’s father, Kaladharan Nair who contributed sprinklers for the new ground.
“Karun was a student before I took charge, but I have heard that he was a disciplined students and a good player,” the school’s current principal Kevin Dominico Pope told TNM.
Karun had done well for the school during many occasions, he scored 188 runs in a quarter final match in the Himalaya Cup in 2007.
Shashidhar has kept years of memories tucked away in a cupboard in the games room. Pulling out an old picture of a young Karun with Javagal Srinath, he said, “This was the Cottonian shield and we got it.”
When told about the picture, Srinath remembered that time when he handed over the trophy. About Karun’s latest feat, he told TNM, ”It was a good triple century.”
Shashidhar says he always knew Karun would make it big in the cricketing world. “I knew for sure that he would play in Ranji matches. But when he was playing for the Under 19 team, I watched him and knew then that he would go on to play for India.”
The coach and his student still keep in touch. “I messaged him on Sunday night too and told him to convert the century to a double century. And now it’s a triple century,” Shashishar beamed.
He has only wish for Karun, “He should go on playing for India and score lots of centuries."