Dinesh Karthik: ‘So much one can learn by just watching McCullum’

The dashing wicket-keeper batsman has 190 runs so far in this IPL season with a batting average of 38.00 (strike rate 136.69).

Dinesh Karthik plays a switch-hit in Gujarat Lions’ match against Mumbai Indians.   -  Sportzpics

Being flexible about his batting slot is among Dinesh Karthik’s principal attributes. The free-stroking batsman backs himself to perform in any position.

“I have batted at different slots. I have opened too and enjoyed doing so. What’s important is how you prepare for the role mentally and this is one aspect on which I have really worked on,” Karthik said in a chat with Sportstar on Monday.

After donning a huge role in Tamil Nadu’s triumphs in the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy one-day competitions — performances that should put him in strong contention for a place in the Indian team for the ICC Champions Trophy — Karthik is sizzling for Gujarat Lions in the IPL these days.

The dashing wicket-keeper batsman has 190 runs so far with a batting average of 38.00 (strike rate 136.69). The manner in which Karthik has been striking the ball, combining bat-speed with footwork, has been compelling. He has grown in confidence, is dominating attacks.

Karthik does give a team plenty of options. He can open, bat in the middle-order, and keep wickets.

And Karthik’s inspiration is with there him, guiding the Tamil Nadu cricketer in the Gujarat Lions team. Indeed, Karthik shares a deep bond with the great Kiwi wicket-keeper batsman Brendon McCullum.

“There is so much that one can learn by just watching McCullum. He’s a different kettle of fish, can decimate attacks. And he always has something to say to you,” said Karthik.

He elaborated, “McCullum calls a spade a spade, doesn’t hold anything back. When I play a certain shot and get out, he is the only person who will come up to me and say, ‘you should have done it differently, been better in execution,’ or that I was just unlucky.”

In fact, after every discussion with McCullum, Karthik has come back comprehending the game better. “He always tells me to be positive, have belief. He says, ‘If you have a shot in mind go for it, don’t hold yourself back. Be decisive.’”

For Karthik, McCullum has been a role model. “Last year, he was struggling with a back problem still he came and played some brilliants knocks for the franchise withstanding pain.”

In the days ahead, Karthik wants to have more conversations with McCullum on the art of ‘keeping. In this prime, McCullum was smooth, balanced and possessed fast hands behind stumps.

And Karthik, backed by strong displays, is gearing himself for an India comeback.