After the retirement of MS Dhoni from Tests, Wridhiman Saha was a permanent member of Indian test team. He contributed well behind the stumps as well as with the bat. He scored 1164 runs in 32 Tests with 3 hundreds and 8 half-centuries at an average of 30.63.
Parthiv Patel was the second choice after Saha. And then, the narrative changed. Saha got injured in England and South Africa series.
Interestingly, when Saha got injured while batting in qualifier number 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders in the recently concluded- Indian Premier League, he was ruled out of the upcoming one-off test against Afghanistan.
In Bangalore, all would have expected to see Saha in. But Dinesh Karthik was named the replacement of Saha for the Test beginning June 14.
This is quite surprising and interesting at the same time. For starters, one would’ve only pictured Karthik as a mainstay in the limited overs format, primarily because in the only common templates of the sport where he was picked, Dinesh Karthik has been performing steadily. His 29 off just 8 balls recently helped him salvage and establish himself again. Who would have expected the mild-mannered bloke in Tests cricket?
There’s reason to be surprised because the last that anyone saw the right-hander in Tests was about 8 cricketing summers ago.
Do you even remember when Karthik last featured in a 5-day game? Dinesh Karthik played his last Test in 2010 against Bangladesh at Chittagong. He made his Test debut in 2004 against Australia in Mumbai. In 14 years of his international career, he only played 23 Tests and scored 1000 runs with a hundred and 7 fifties with an average of 27.77. In the current scheme of things, therefore, this is a brilliant surprise. It’s another possible chance to revive a fledgeling career that very nearly wasn’t.
But for starters, his doubters would care to remember that he played an important role in 2007 Test series win in England. He played as an opener and he scored 263 runs with 3 fifties and become highest run-getter for India. That does mean that the quiet cricketer can handle himself well in the longer format of the game where not every ball is to be plundered.
Of late, his overall IPL record looks fabulous too.
Dinesh Karthik captained Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 11 and was also the highest run-getter for his team as he scored 498 runs in 16 games. Does this mean, there’s a chance for him to carry his great T20 form into the Test games?
If he does make a feisty score or two, then it could mean he’s one of the talented names around to serve Indian cricket in the longest format.
On his current batting form, he will be the better choice over Parthiv Patel, who, clearly has struggled to get going. In addition, Parthiv didn’t quite perform when England last toured India. So, is there hope for Karthik then?