Dinesh Karthik: Finishing it like never before
Dinesh Karthik has been playing the role of finisher brilliantly for RCB|
Just when everyone thought that Dinesh Karthik is a spent force in world cricket, he has unlocked his best version with clinical finishes for RCB. The Indian selectors shut door on him after the 2019 ODI World Cup but he has revived his chances of making a return with his exploits in the IPL.
Dinesh Karthik is one of the familiar names in Indian cricket. He has been one of the plethora of wicket keepers who were tried out by the Indian team before the arrival of MS Dhoni. Not many would forget the sight of Dinesh Karthik pulling off a super stumping of Michael Vaughan in 2004. It was his first dismissal as a wicketkeeper for India but his international career never really took off.
When he started scoring consistently in domestic cricket, MS Dhoni had already established himself as a good wicket-keeper and so there was little the Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper-batter could do. However, come IPL 2022 and Karthik is unleashing his best version. In spite of having a lot of talent, an in-and-out history with the Indian team didn’t help his career much.
Karthik started his domestic career in 2002/03. He was rewarded for his performances in domestic cricket with an international debut in an ODI against England in 2004. He also made his Test debut the same year versus Australia. He managed to score only one fifty in ten matches and he was dropped as a result. Karthik was also an integral part of the Indian team winning the historic Test series in England in 2007. He showed in the series that he can open the batting in the toughest conditions and succeed.
Karthik made over 1000 first-class runs in the 2008-09 season and made a comeback to the national side for a tour of New Zealand. However, his lack of consistency did not allow him to cement his place. Karthik made another comeback in the 2013 Champions Trophy and the tournament didn’t turn out to be a good campaign for him as he scored just 82 runs from four innings at 41 with a half-century. He also suffered a familiar dip in form after the tournament and lost his place in the Indian team as a result.
Karthik was also part of the Indian team in the 2019 ODI World Cup but once again he failed to impress the selectors. He has scored 1025 runs from 26 Tests at 25, 1752 runs from 94 ODIs at 30.20, and 399 runs from 32 T20I matches. Dinesh Karthik might not have been satisfied with his international career as he doesn’t have much to talk about and has been in and out of the team. MS Dhoni was the first-choice wicketkeeper and so Karthik had to perform with the bat to cement his place in the national squad with the limited opportunities he got. The cricketer hasn’t enjoyed a successful international career but his exploits in IPL will make him happy for sure.
Ever since the inaugural season in 2008, he has played for six franchises and has one of the most consistent appearances for his team. This is a testament to his fitness as many players younger than him find it tough to play a full season to manage workload. Dinesh Karthik has 3889 runs from 184 IPL innings with an average of 25.93 and a strike rate of 131.30. When Kathik captained Tamil Nadu to the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in 2019-20 he had told ESPNcricinfo that he’s targeting a MS Dhoni-like finishing role and he is doing it successfully at least in IPL this season.
Karthik has scored 14-ball 32*, 7-ball 14*, 23-ball 44*, 2-ball 7*, and 14-ball 34 in the IPL 2022 so far. He has a strike rate of 218.33 and a massive average of 131. Being a wicketkeeper gives him an advantage in IPL and he is very rarely dropped from the playing XI. This season Karthik seems to have unlocked his best version and he is finishing the games like never before. Even in the last game against CSK, the required run-rate was very high but Karthik opened up the possibility of stealing the game. From being inconsistent, the wicketkeeper-batter seems to be knocking on the door of the Indian team with his aggressive exploits.
Much like Dhoni, he has created an aura around him that no target seems to be impossible with him on the crease. He has opened up the possibility of a return to the national team but already having multiple wicketkeepers in the team might block his path. Also, Karthik will have one more challenge. He will have to maintain his consistency unlike what he did in his previous appearances for the national team. The wicket-keeper batter looks in sublime touch and his presence in the lower order is allowing the top-order batters to play freely without worrying about the run-rate for Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Karthik can come back with his batting skills as the team is looking for a finisher and he can provide that. Hardik Pandya might be the first option for the team to be a finisher whenever he will be able to play, but with this kind of form Karthik can be in contention for the spot. It is difficult to tell whether he will make a return to the national squad but it is a treat to the eye watching him play in such a manner hitting the middle of the bat and striking every delivery cleanly.