Karthik stakes claim for India spot

Says he’s done enough to be considered a specialist batsman.

Dinesh Karthik averaged 99.25 in the league phase of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

His returns, particularly at the international level, hardly do justice to the immense potential in him. Some careers are perplexing.

Dinesh Karthik had agonised over missed opportunities. Now the ghosts from the past are buried as he eyes future with a refreshed mindset. “I dream of playing for India again,” says the 31-year-old Tamil Nadu cricketer.

Interestingly, he is not looking at the wicketkeeper-batsman position alone. “I have done enough to be considered a specialist batsman for the country too. For India, I have batted from No. 1 to 7.”

Shot-selection has been the key to Dinesh Karthik’s re-emergence as a game-changer. “My core game has improved with belief, planning, and execution. My defence was always good, it is just that I am building my innings in a better manner now, picking the right strokes,” he said.

A short-statured powerhouse of a batsman, particularly strong square of the wicket, Karthik, gauging the conditions and the attack, patiently builds a platform these days before launching into bowlers.

Top performer

His recent run for Tamil Nadu in the Vijay Hazare one-day competition saw him top the averages in the league phase with an astonishing 99.25. Karthik batted No. 4 for the State, made 397 runs at a strike-rate of 115.07.

Earlier, Karthik caught the eye in the Ranji Trophy with 704 runs at 54.15. In a season in which he also played his 100th Ranji match for Tamil Nadu, Karthik made runs on testing wickets, in tough situations, absorbing pressure.

Time spent with the street-smart Mumbai all-rounder Abhishek Nayar proved beneficial for Karthik. “We talked a lot about preparation, on mindset, about doing the same routine again and again, things you do off the field, and ticking all the boxes.”

The 31-year-old Karthik is also giving importance to his ’keeping. “I have been training under former India ’keeper Sameer Dighe,” he revealed.

There were times in the past when he struggled while ’keeping to left-arm and leg-spinners. “Now, I am able to ’keep to the ball spinning away from the right hander better,” he said.

Around for long

Karthik has been around for a long time — he played his maiden First-Class match in 2002-03 and made his Test debut in 2004. He had his moments such as producing a brave 63 as opener against an incisive South African pace attack that included Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock in the Cape Town Test of 2007. Then he made 91, again as opener, at the expense of an English attack spearheaded by James Anderson, at the Oval the same year.

Behind the stumps, Karthik displayed flashes of brilliance if not consistency.

Although his primary job is to make runs and keep wickets, Karthik has now put his hand up for a specialist batting slot in the Indian team. Often explosive with the willow, he has now learnt to temper his aggression. This quick-footed batsman is batting with both solidity and flair.

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