A huge stride forward for Karthik the finisher

Dinesh Karthik first watched a video of Javed Miandad’s last ball six off Chetan Sharma when he was 10 years old. It remained a school-boy dream in him. “I always thought about hitting the final delivery for a six and taking India past the line,” he said.

The quick-footed Karthik has matured with time, becoming a more-rounded batsman who is hitting a lot straighter, picking his shots and spots with greater judgement and precision.   -  AFP

Dinesh Karthik first watched a video of Javed Miandad’s last ball six off Chetan Sharma when he was 10 years old.

It remained a school-boy dream in him. “I always thought about hitting the final delivery for a six and taking India past the line,” he said.

Actually when Miandad struck that sensational tournament-winning blow in that gut-wrenching Austral-Asia Cup final at Sharjah in 1986, Karthik was under a year-old.

Now, he was a battle-scarred senior cricketer in the Indian camp. And the moment — when Bangladesh’s Soumya Sarkar ran in — was his shot at long-awaited glory.

And when Karthik bludgeoned Sarkar for the maximum with India needing five runs off the last delivery in the Nidahas Trophy final on Sunday, he had ticked a massive box in his wish list.

Watching that pulse-pounding conclusion in Colombo was India coach Ravi Shastri who was in that Indian team floored by Miandad’s knockout blow 32 years ago.

He rushed to the ground in relief and joy after the contest’s explosive end.

Karthik will savour the moment. He had donned the cloak of a finisher for India and lived out a fantasy during his eight-ball blitz of unbeaten 29.

He has been around for long in an international career that began in 2004. It has been a rocky ride for the wicketkeeper-batsman from Chennai, a journey in which he had displayed tremendous fighting qualities.

The striking aspect about Karthik’s last-ball heroics in Colombo was, there was so little predetermination. He stood still and calm when the final delivery was released.

The full length delivery outside off — not the easiest ball to put away — was despatched with bat-speed and power for a flat six over covers.

The quick-footed Karthik has matured with time, becoming a more-rounded batsman who is hitting a lot straighter, picking his shots and spots with greater judgement and precision.

India’s bowling coach Bharat Arun told Sportstar on Monday, “Look at the way Karthik was using the crease. He stood outside the crease for the first two balls he faced.

“For the next two balls, he went deep into his crease. Karthik foxed the bowler into bowling the line and length, he wanted.”

Arun said, “Karthik is among those rare batsmen who can play shots all 360 degrees. And even under extreme pressure, his perception skills are good. It was a massive occasion for all of us when he produced that amazing finish.”

For Karthik, a stint under Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar had tightened the game and strengthened the mind.

His journey is as much about heart as talent.

From now on, he will always be Dinesh ‘Nidahas’ Karthik.

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