Karthik: ‘I didn’t lose my place to any normal cricketer’

India wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik believes inconsistency led to his Test ouster in 2010 and he says, “...there was someone called M.S. Dhoni breathing down my neck”.

Dinesh Karthik trains ahead of the historic Test match against Afghanistan at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru.   -  K. MURALI KUMAR

 

Dinesh Karthik loves speaking his mind. The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batsman, who returned to India’s Test squad after eight years, believes that he missed out on the longer format because of being inconsistent.

Ahead of his Test comeback fixture — against Afghanistan at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday — Karthik went on an emotional roller-coaster.

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How does it feel to return to Test cricket after eight long years?

It feels very good to wear the whites and be part of the Test team. It is something I have always dreamt of, and wanted to happen. I am really happy, and (am) thankful to the people who supported me through the years.

Many people believe, this is your ‘second win’. How would you react?

I have been asked this question a lot of times. It feels good for sure. It is hard for me to put phrases like second win or a comeback of sorts. But all I can say is that it feels good to be back. Test cricket is the ultimate challenge. The main format is Test, so I am proud to be here. It is another opportunity to showcase my skill and touchwood, I can do the best.

READ: After eight long years, Testing times are here for DK

You have been a regular performer for Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy…

I have always enjoyed playing the sport so motivation has never been the problem. I enjoyed playing the Ranji Trophy. It is a totally different challenge. There are not many people coming and watching you play. We play the sport because we enjoy playing it. I am lucky that way because I have always done that subconsciously. I have enjoyed being a part of Tamil Nadu team. Credit to them as well for having put up with me over the tough years. I am really indebted to them. It is very easy to fade away but for Tamil Nadu to constantly competing in Ranji Trophy, that was challenge. Every alternate years, we put up performances. We were consistent. Every two years we would hit the knockouts and go to semis or the final. When you do that, as senior players, they expect you to perform well. Along the way if I help young guys, then its great.

You came in as a replacement for Wriddhiman Saha. Now, what would you do to keep Saha out for longer time?

If you go deep into the question on what I should do to keep out someone else, then you are taking energy away from the fact that you are competing with somebody. That puts extra pressure to what already is there. What I am trying to do — as clichéd as it may sound— is trying to be the best cricketer that I can be, not on the field but off the field too. I am trying to be consistent there, even if I don’t get an opportunity. Even if I don’t play the sport at the highest level, I want to be content with the fact that I have given everything I had. They keep saying, do your processes and things will follow. So, I am trying to do the processes which I feel is right. I am in that journey. If I go into your question and start thinking about that aspect then it will be subjective — I need to score this, I need to score that. I don’t want to keep it that way. I want to keep it in a way which is try and prepare as much as I can. And given a chance, try and deliver. I am keeping my whole process that way.

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Your Tamil Nadu coach, Hrishikesh Kanitkar, believes that this eight-year gap has given you a chance to sit back and assess what went wrong in 2010. Do you feel it that way?

Look, I think I wasn’t good enough, rather I was not consistent enough. That was a highly competitive environment and there was someone called M.S. Dhoni breathing down my neck, who was causing a lot of stir in world cricket at that point of time. He has gone on to become one of the greatest captains India has ever produced. So, I didn’t lose my place to any normal cricketer; he was special. I respect him for that. At that stage, I could not produce enough performances to hold on to my berth. I need to be honest with myself. I have another opportunity and I guess, I will try my best.