Arun Karthick: TNPL champion with a Yo-Yo score higher than Kohli

Siechem Madurai Panthers’ Arun Karthick scored 472 runs in 10 matches, the highest in the TNPL 2018, at an impressive strike rate of 153.74.

K.B. Arun Karthick scored a blazing 75 off 50 balls and took four catches against Dindigul Dragons in the TNPL 2018 final.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

In what could be called a fairytale tale finish to this edition of the Tamil Nadu Premier League, K.B. Arun Karthick hammered the ball over the mid-off fielder for a boundary to win Siechem Madurai Panthers the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) 2018. The Madurai players, who were stoically waiting for the final moment, ran on to the pitch and stood in a straight line to execute a team salute to the wicketkeeper-batsman.

Clearly overwhelmed by the gesture, he threw open his arms as his emotional teammates surrounded him. What has gone into this 32-year-old player to evolve into a local hero? A team which had gone win-less in the previous two editions of the league lifted the trophy, and it was evident who had been behind it all.

Karthick scored six fifties while guiding Siechem Madurai Panthers to its maiden triumph.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

 

In a chat with Sportstar, Karthick says, “We had a good team, and we knew we were capable of doing good this season. After the first loss, we gelled together as a team and the first victory pumped confidence into us. By the play-offs, the boys did not need me to motivate them. I just concentrated on my own job, the others on their own.”

Most runs, most number of sixes, most half centuries and maximum average- there was no space in the record book that Karthick had left for some person else. “It felt good and I did not expect all of these. Throughout the season, I had the hunger and desire to do well. I just wanted to contribute to the team. All other achievements are secondary,” he said.

Karthick believes fitness is a very important gift that you must have to participate in T20 leagues like the TNPL. “I had passed the Yo-Yo test a month back with a score of 19.2. You need to be in a very good shape in these tournaments,” he said. To put things in perspective, Virat Kohli and Manish Pandey had aced the test with a score of 19 and 19.2 respectively before the England tour.

READ: Madurai Panthers clinches TNPL title

They say T20 matches are for the youngsters. But Karthick, who has a decade-long experience in the national circuit, was out to prove them all wrong.

“In T20 you have to be very fit. But that is not all. You also have to have enough experience and a better understanding of tough situations which would help you keep your calm. Just being a youngster would not help,” the 32-year-old veteran said.

The experienced Karthick has also represented IPL sides -- Chennai Super Kings (2008-2010) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (2011). His last-ball six against South Australia was the one which took RCB through to the semi-final of the Champions League T20 in 2011.

“Playing in the IPL helped me evolve both as a cricketer and as a person. But once you are out of the IPL, that is the period when you tend to learn a lot of things,” he says.

Karthick made his first-class debut for Tamil Nadu in 2008. Six years later he was seen playing for Assam. After another three years there, he moved to Kerala.

“I played as an opener for Tamil Nadu when guys like Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund were playing. So even if you got a century you would have to sit on the bench. There was one season when I did not get to play a single game. I spoke to some of my seniors who suggested me to switch.”

So is he going to relax now that the curtains have fallen over this edition of the TNPL?

“My main focus would be a couple of league games that are round the corner. Also the Vijay Hazare Trophy games are coming up. The domestic season has all my focus.”