Dhaka: Has Dinesh Karthik squandered another opportunity? Two crucial blunders (off Kumar Sangakkara and Shoaib Maqsood) probably cost India a berth in the Asia Cup final.
In the first instance, Sangakkara got a life on 30 and went on to make a match-winning 103. Ravindra Jadeja was the bowler and all that Karthik had to do was to remove the bails. In the close match against Pakistan, Karthik failed to judge the bounce when Ravichandran Ashwin sent in a well disguised carrom ball from around the wicket. This was in the 38th over of a tense chase and India paid for the lapse.
On Tuesday, when the Indians were having nets, what drew the attention was an animated discussion between Virat Kohli and Dinesh Karthik. The skipper had a one-on-one with his wicketkeeper for about 50 minutes and Karthik was attentive.
Karthik made it to Bangladesh because of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s injury but failed to put his talent on display in front and behind the stumps. Known as an attacking batsman, Karthik scored 2 not out against Bangladesh, 4 against Sri Lanka and 21 against Pakistan.
The blunders could prove damaging to Karthik’s career. Former India stumper MSK Prasad said it is difficult for a player to hold his nerves while making a comeback, that too replacing someone like Dhoni. “The tragedy is people will start comparing him with Dhoni. They all know it is a temporary lease of life as Dhoni has become irreplaceable. But unfortunately, in the limited chances that Karthik or Parthiv Patel or Wriddihaman Saha got, they did not stand up to the challenge. Dhoni has set a very high standard as a wicketkeeper, hard-hitting batsman and captain,” said Prasad, who played six Tests and 17 ODIs in the late 90s.
According to Prasad, it was a good chance for Karthik to make a comeback at least as a batsman. “He is as good a batsman as Dhoni, if not better, with a good range of strokes. However, he messes it up by playing bad shots. Even in keeping, he rushes things. His collection on the leg needs to improve.”
Prasad said most wicketkeepers in India had to resign to their fate because of Dhoni’s phenomenal success. “Who could have matched Dhoni’s performance? He is a giant while others like Karthik, Saha or Patel are waiting for a small window. But unfortunately, whenever they played, they were compared with Dhoni. This added to the pressure they faced,” he said.
Patel and Karthik are 28. Patel made his Test debut in 2002 against England, while Karthik cut his teeth against Australia in 2004. Dhoni made his ODI debut in Bangladesh in late 204 before earning his Test cap about a year later against Sri Lanka in Chennai. The 32-year-old has never been dropped on form. Saha made his Test debut as a batsman against South Africa in 2010. So it’s been Dhoni all the way.