His copybook batting in a slam-bang version has caught the imagination of all and sundry but young Rajasthan Royals batsman Karun Nair feels he needs to "improve his game" even further in order to harbour hopes of donning the national colours.
"Trying to improve one's self and learning the subtle nuances of the game is an ongoing process. I am trying to improve my game and take it to the next level. I don't want to pressurise myself with thoughts of India call-up. Obviously, that's (India call-up) what you dream for but right now, I want to focus on my skills," 22-year-old Karun told PTI during an interaction.
Karun, though, has taken his first big step towards realising his ultimate goal -- to don India jersey. He has been selected as one of the probables for the India Emerging (U-23) side that will tour Australia later this year. "The camp will start from June 5 and I am preparing myself for that," the soft-spoken youngster said.
An interaction with him would tell you that he has his feet firmly rooted to the ground despite having a good IPL season with 330 runs in 11 games at an impressive strike-rate of 142.24.
"I am not fully happy with my performance. Yes, I have got runs in some of the matches but I would have liked to get a few more runs. Also the fact that we couldn't qualify for the play-offs hurts," said the Bangalore boy, who has had scores of 73 no, 44, 56, 48 and 50 to show for his efforts as an opener.
"Actually, this is the first season where I got so many chances but I have played for RCB earlier also. I am happy that I could showcase my skills. I need to thank the Royals management for the faith that they showed in my abilities. I didn't get runs in the first few matches but I got a lot of encouragement," he said.
Purists found his style of batting in T20 delightful as he managed a healthy strike-rate with authentic cricketing shots.
"I have always believed in playing to my strengths. I have played the cut shot well this time. I like the inside out shot as well. But in general, I try to play all the shots in the cricketing shots which include sweeps or on-drive. I don't have fascination for a particular stroke. Whenever I need to know something, I go back to my childhood coach B Shivanand."
Karun also spoke about team's mentor Rahul Dravid's support. (Also read: Rahul Dravid Blmaes Bowlers for Rajasthan Royals Loss to Mumbai Indians)
"He (Dravid) didn't say much but was always supportive. He would tell me to remain free and play my natural game," said the stylish right-hander, who played an important part in Karnataka's dream season in which they won triple crown (Ranji Trophy, Vijay Hazare Trophy and Irani Trophy).
Karun agreed that he got a lot of boost from his performance in the Ranji Trophy this season. "My maiden first-class century in Ranji Trophy (against Delhi at Feroz Shah Kotla) gave me a lot of confidence. It instilled in me a self-belief that I could score centuries at the first-class level. I was happy that I could continue with my good form (scoring centuries quarters and semi-final of Ranji Trophy as well as 92 in Irani Trophy vs ROI)," said Karun.