“I don’t know many batsmen who can hit the first ball they face for a six.’’ Such eloquent words of praise for Dinesh Karthik came from Shakib al Hasan after his team went down in the thrilling final of the Nidahas Trophy. Earlier, India’s victory had looked unlikely as Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar failed to capitalise on the platform set up by India’s captain Rohit Sharma. Karthik’s magical knock of 29 came of a mere 8 deliveries including 22 runs of Bangladesh’s most trusted weapon, Rubel Hossain. The last ball six which sealed the deal for India came of Soumya Sarkar who had been hitting the right length consistently.
So has it guaranteed a middle order berth for Karthik for the 2019 World Cup?
Only time will tell. Dinesh Karthik has been one of those toilers who have never lived up to the expectations. This has, in turn, not helped his cause to seal a permanent place in the Indian squad. But, his latest heroics in the Nidahas Trophy final has once again sparked hopes for both Karthik and his fans. His knock comes at a time when the Indian middle order doesn’t have a settled look. These are, of course, days where the team is trying new set of youngsters, finding Virat and Dhoni in the need of much needed breathers, from time to time. Suresh Raina has failed to convert good starts into something substantial and the likes of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav continue to struggle in the limited overs format.
Does it therefore re-highlight the focus on Karthik’s experience?
The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper batsman also has the right kind of game and the ability to improvise which India so badly needs in the closing overs of a limited overs match. His experience might be the guiding anchor in times to come with more new players being recruited to increase India’s limited overs outfit. That told, it’s difficult to believe that Dinesh Karthik made his one day international debut much before anyone knew Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
But, his inconsistency both with the gloves and the bat led to his ouster from the team. Maybe, in light of his recent heroics, he would have thought to further his game. A single match winning knock augurs for more to come; depending on their author to up the ante of such glitzy performances.
But, Karthik, has on numerous occasions made a strong comeback in Indian colours backed by strong domestic performances. The upcoming IPL is going to be an ideal launching pad for Karthik to really prove his mettle as a destructive middle order batsman. Additionally, the added responsibility of leading the KKR side, will be a litmus Test of Karthik- the batsman and the man.
Let’s hope that he will come out on top just like he did on Sunday night at Colombo.