He has done the hard work

Karthik’s mindset towards keeping has changed and he has made genuine efforts to spruce up his skills.-R.V. MOORTHY

Dinesh Karthik may have to sit out at least in the earlier phase of the Champions Trophy, but his addition will definitely provide enough muscle to the batting order.

The acrobatic stumping of Michael Vaughan — in the NatWest Trophy in England, in 2004 — made everyone realise the agility and potential Dinesh Karthik had but since then his career went on a roller coaster ride.

Like Rohit Sharma, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind about his ability as a batsman/wicketkeeper. He had his chances to establish himself on the tour of Sri Lanka when Dhoni opted to stay out. But Karthik’s over-exuberance in playing some unconventional shots repeatedly to get out provided Dhoni the biggest break apart from triggering his slide southwards.

However, the IPL provided a platform for Karthik to play cricket the way he likes to play — attack without inhibitions. His multidimensional skills came to the fore but there again the mercurial persona of his forced him to neglect his keeping when in good form with the bat. This prompted the selectors to look for alternatives. Wriddhiman Saha took over as the reserve keeper leaving Dinesh Karthik to return to the grind of domestic cricket in the last few years.

Being thrown into oblivion brought him back to the reality that he cannot bank on his batting alone to get back into the big league. His mindset towards keeping changed and he made genuine efforts to spruce up his skills in the bygone domestic season. Reportedly he kept well in the Ranji Trophy and the resulting confidence rubbed off on his batting as well. He scored consistently for his State, Tamil Nadu, in all the formats which brought him back into the fold.

Batting was always his passion and having watched him closely for three seasons, I for one always thought that he could figure as a batsman ahead of the other fancied choices. I would have thought the same had he hailed from Thalassery or Tinsukia because his ability to play in a domineering fashion even against the best of fast bowlers is a rare commodity. He has scored abroad and there was hardly an occasion where he struggled against the short stuff. His biggest folly is in trying to be too cute and not understanding that it’s a thin line that separates innovation and foolhardiness. Besides, he took the words of Greg Chappell, that he could be a leader in the future, too seriously and focussed on displaying his intelligence at the expense of not reading the situations well enough. Of course, Chappell is not to be blamed but the years in the wilderness would have hopefully helped Karthik to realise that intelligence at times can be a weakness as much as it can be a strength.

He may have to sit out at least in the earlier phase of the Champions Trophy, but his addition will definitely provide enough muscle to the batting order given the fact that Karthik is a real joker in the pack. I hasten to add that I am saying it in the positive sense as he can bat anywhere in the line-up. His biggest challenge will be to stay patient and wait for his chance as he is prone to be as fidgety as a cat on a hot tin roof.

In addition, he needs to keep working on his wicket-keeping as well since that is what has brought him to the big league. In fighting his way back to the Indian team he has shown character which some thought he lacked but with a lot of cricket to be played abroad, he can fancy his chances of getting a few games along the way. It is not easy for a hyperactive person to bide his time but such is Karthik’s situation now that he has to remind himself repeatedly that patience is a virtue. He has done the hard work for over three years and now it is a matter of controlling his perennial energy and train of thoughts. Hopefully, he will do justice as and when he gets the opportunities as he has got what it takes. Only time will tell if he has learnt his lessons from the years he spent in the wilderness.