T20 World Cup dream keeping Dinesh Karthik’s fire burning brighter than ever- The New Indian Express

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Days after taking India home in the Nidahas Trophy final against Bangladesh in 2018 with an unbeaten eight-ball 29, Dinesh Karthik was asked to compare his finishing skills with MS Dhoni. Without taking a pause, Karthik had an answer: “When it comes to Dhoni – I am studying in a university where he is the topper. He is one of the guys I have always looked up to. It is unfair to compare me with him. “

That reply revealed a lot about where Karthik or “DK” stood in terms of his game. From the time he made his debut to the last time he was dropped after the 2019 World Cup, DK has been a man for all seasons and spots. Opener injured, call up DK. Middle-order batter needed? Includes DK. A back-up for the wicketkeeper is required? “DK, please fill in.” This has been the story for most of his international career di lui which includes 26 Tests, 94 ODIs and 32 T20Is starting from 2004 to 2019.

Last year, when DK had a successful commentary gig with Sky Sports, and the call-up to the national team seemed the farthest ever, there were even questions as to whether he is giving up his playing career. A seamless transition had taken place. But, he came back to finish the IPL leg for Kolkata Knight Riders, before being acquired by Royal Challengers Bangalore.

In a batting line-up comprising Faf du Plessis, Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, you knew what RCB were looking for. A reliable hand to don the finisher role. After all, this has been their Achilles heel in the past. After showing what he can do in their first match against Punjab Kings, where his 14-ball 32 powered RCB to 205, on Tuesday, against Rajasthan Royals, he showed how much he has evolved as a finisher.

Chasing 170, Karthik walked in with RCB reeling at 87/5 in the 13th over. After playing three balls, he was set to face R Ashwin, a bowler who is familiar to him and had bowled three quite overs. And after two balls where DK and Shabhaz Ahmed exchanged singles, the former showed that face of the finisher, which is becoming a more and more dangerous sight for the opposition. A four off a no-ball, followed by a six over long-on and two fours – one over mid-off and a reverse-sweep – is all that took DK to get momentum back in RCB’s favor, which they never let go off .

It was DK showing his range as a finisher. And unlike Dhoni, who prefers to take it deep, DK isn’t as premeditated. He is willing to be bold enough to take risks, from the word go.

“I made a conscious effort to do justice to myself because I felt last year I could’ve done a little better. The way I trained was a little different – hats off to the person I trained with. He put me through some things which was very important for me in life as well. I say that only because I was making a conscious effort to tell myself that I’m not done yet. I have a goal and I want to achieve something and I tried my best in terms of preparation, ”Karthik told Star Sports.

And behind the scenes, despite the selection doors seeming all but shut, he has worked his back off. “He has been working on a planned schedule and it was the first thing he told me when I came on board. He told under no circumstances, he is willing to even miss a practice session and asked to plan everything around it. Even if it involved excessive traveling, he was willing to do that ”says V Balaji, Karthik’s manager.

After the commentary stint with Sky Sports, DK played domestic cricket, but this season preferred to stay away from Ranji Trophy to focus his full attention to white-ball cricket for Tamil Nadu. “Once the IPL auction was over, all that he wanted was to do justice to himself and show he has a lot left in him. And try and look at one possible return for the World Cup. He told me, ‘Anna, the fire to play one more World Cup is burning’, ”Balaji added.

This unflinching desire to make a return has seen DK carry his kit bag almost wherever he goes. According to Balaji, even though his UK visa di lui allowed him to get paid only for broadcasting, DK was keen on playing. “He kept asking me to find a club and because of visa restrictions, he could play only in the lower leagues and he did without taking a pound. He batted, kept wickets and was at all times trying to prove himself that he isn’t a spent man, ”Balaji said.

And since the auction got over, DK kept traveling between Mumbai and Bangalore for batting and wicketkeeping training separately. A detailed plan was put in place, where even if he had advertisement shoots and social media engagements, his practice sessions won’t be compromised for any reason. In the midst of everything, Karthik even played a game in Theni district in Tamil Nadu for his club India Cements.

With competition for places crowded as ever in the Indian team, and a whole lot of names doing the rounds for the finisher’s role, DK is sending reminders after reminders hopeful of another comeback.

“I think he needs to put his name back into international cricket, doesn’t he?” Du Plessis said.

And maybe the time is also right to ask the question to DK, “Did he graduate from Dhoni’s University as a topper?”

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