India skipper Rohit Sharma on Sunday lauded Dinesh Karthik's ability to handle pressure after the wicketkeeper-batsman hit a last-ball six to help his side clinch the tri-series final against Bangladesh.
Karthik showcased nerves of steel during his eight-ball 29 to help India pull off a tense 167-run chase and win by four wickets at Colombo's R. Premadasa Stadium. India were pushed to the brink needing 34 off the last 12 balls but Karthik's whirlwind knock ensured that they stay unbeaten against Bangladesh in eight T20 meetings between the two sides.
Sharma, who set the chase with his 42-ball 56, said that dropping down Karthik to number seven was part of a plan that came off well.
“He has batted in that position in a list of games for his state teams. Even when he was playing for Mumbai Indians (in the Indian Premier League) with me, I knew his ability with the bat,” Sharma told reporters.
“He's got some different types of skill shots that would probably be required at that point at the death overs. That was the only reason we held him back. I can proudly say it paid off,” said Sharma.
Needing 12 to win off the last over, India lost Vijay Shankar on the penultimate ball but Karthik held his nerve to hit Soumya Sarkar for six, triggering wild celebrations in the dressing room. Fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman gave away just one run in the 18th over and took the crucial wicket of Manish Pandey, who made 28, to give Bangladesh the edge.
Karthik, who was named man of the match, then stepped up to clobber paceman Rubel Hossain for two sixes and two fours as India took away 22 runs in the 19th over and make the equation easy.
“Dinesh and Manish and Vijay (Shankar) knew that the pressure is on them, so one mistake here and there, and pressure does play a big part. That's exactly what happened,” said Sharma.
“We knew he (Karthik) could finish off the game for us.”
- Chahal effect -
Earlier put into bat, Bangladesh rode on Sabbir Rahman's 50-ball 77 to post 166 for eight against a disciplined Indian bowling.
Leg-spinner Yuzvendra Chahal claimed three wickets to rattle the Bangladesh batting early including the prized scalp of the in-form Mushfiqur Rahim for nine. He returned figures of 3-18.
Sabbir then went after the Indian pacemen Vijay Shankar and Shardul Thakur, who gave away 93 runs between them.
Left-arm quick Jaydev Unadkat struck late to get two wickets in an over as he finally got Sabbir, who hit seven fours and four sixes, bowled on a slower delivery.
Lanky off-spinner Washington Sundar also returned miserly figures of 1-20 and was named Man of the Series for leading the wicket-takers chart along with Chahal -- they both got eight wickets each in five games.
“Anybody could've won the game but credit to India, they held their nerves, especially Dinesh Karthik for the way he played,” Bangladesh skipper Shakib Al Hasan said in praise of his opponents.
India, who just lost the opener against hosts Sri Lanka in the tri-series, kept its T20 record clean against the Tigers in eight meetings. Sri Lanka bowed out of the tournament, which commemorated 70 years of independence for the island nation, after losing to Bangladesh in a virtual semifinal on Friday.