Vijay Hazare Trophy: Karthik dazzles as TN inches closer to knockout berth

Karthik seized the opportunity at the KIIT cricket ground on Friday with a match-winning effort on the lines of his 118 against Delhi in the opening match.

Dinesh Karthik played a knock of 88 to help his team get the better of Kerala.   -  File photo: R. V. Moorthy

 

Dinesh Karthik has assumed the role of the senior statesman in this Tamil Nadu team and performed to establish his credentials with élan. With an aggregate of 316 runs, a century and two half centuries to his credit, the dapper wicketkeeper-batsman has been the critical link between Tamil Nadu and the opponents in the Vijay Hazare Trophy here. He was the star of the six-wicket win over Kerala following a superb innings of 88.

Karthik seized the opportunity at the KIIT cricket ground on Friday with a match-winning effort on the lines of his 118 against Delhi in the opening match. Kerala, asked to bat, could manage to set a target of 231 which Tamil Nadu achieved in style, the knock by Karthik (68 balls, 15 fours) and a fluent 74 by B. Aparajith (91 balls, nine fours) ensuring Tamil Nadu’s fourth win in five matches and coming closer to sealing a spot in the knockout stage.

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Often Karthik is accused of throwing his wicket but then his game is built on snatching the initiative. There are times he succumbs to innocuous deliveries. Like this day when he flirted with a rising ball outside off and only earned a nick. He looked good for a century and if he did he had none to blame. The ball had four runs written all over and Karthik failed to connect it well.

Karthik’s new role is driven by his resolve to be mentally better prepared. “I have been following the same routine and it gets boring too. But I am doing the boring things well, getting up, meditating and coming to the ground. I have been more discipline because I want to do as well as I have. I want to showcase my batting. Wicketkeeping is an accessory. I want to throw my hat in the ring as a batsman. I am not really looking far but looking to be more consistent is the way forward. I want to be looked at as a batsman,” said Karthik.

The third wicket partnership of 144 runs between Karthik and Aparajith was the highlight of this contest. Even as the wiry Sandeep Warrier produced an incisive spell of fast bowling and claimed four wickets it was always going to be tough for Kerala to stop Tamil Nadu’s progress. Kerala’s score was boosted by Sanju Samson (84 off 89 balls with six fours and three sixes) and Salman Nizar (49 off 36 balls with four fours and three sixes). Their sixth-wicket stand of 111 runs raising some hopes for Kerala.

The ease with which Aparajith and Karthik reached the winning mark augurs well for Tamil Nadu, which has emerged a compact side, well-groomed in all the departments of the game. The win here was in keeping with its form and the defeat against Maharashtra being an aberration.

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