Comeback man Dinesh Karthik batting for future

'I guess I did not perform well enough before. I wasn’t consistent enough. There was a highly competitive environment. MS Dhoni was breathing down my neck.'

Published: 13th June 2018 03:14 AM  |   Last Updated: 13th June 2018 03:14 AM   |  A+A-

Indian wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik (File | AFP)

Express News Service

BENGALURU:In 2004, Dinesh Karthik came in as a wicketkeeper, when India had enough of Parthiv Patel. He even scored valuable 93 in his seventh Test, and was just about hanging by the thread, when a certain MS Dhoni took his spot of all places in his hometown in 2005. Then he spent two years in the wilderness as Dhoni became immovable, before a merry-go-round at the top allowed Karthik to return to Tests as an opener, a role he never played before for Tamil Nadu.

He went to England and performed well as an opener against all odds. Then after a couple of ordinary outings against Pakistan at home, he was shunted as Virender Sehwag found his second wind. There was no place for Karthik the wicketkeeper  or for Karthik the specialist batsman. His only chances came when Dhoni was rested or when he was injured, as limited-over call-ups came and went without him getting a proper run. The last time he donned India whites was in 2010, and since then the team has changed so considerably that there are absolutely no traces of that side.

And now, Karthik gets another look-in in the Test side. Again, this time, he was not even the first choice, and only an injury to Wriddhiman Saha gave him a chance. He doesn’t know if he would get another, and if that’s the case, Karthik would probably just shrug and move on, for he knows he is at a stage where selection doesn’t depend entirely on what he does. For he has performed to the point where there is nothing more for him to prove in the domestic circuit, but only to see his name miss out.

On Tuesday, Karthik was asked if this was his second wind. He smiled at first, perhaps recollecting the number of times he had been asked about making it to the national side. He then revealed how he just sees this as another opportunity to showcase his skills. But, there was another side of Karthik, one that is rarely visible. He conceded how he’d accepted that he hadn’t been “good enough” after being dropped from the Test side.

“I guess I did not perform well enough before. I wasn’t consistent enough. There was a highly competitive environment. MS Dhoni was breathing down my neck. It’s not that I lost out my place to some normal cricketer. He has been a special cricketer over a period of time, and I respect him for that.

“Just the fact that I couldn’t at that stage produce enough performances to hold on to my place... I think I need to be honest with myself. I think I wasn’t as good then,” Karthik said.

As England approaches, Karthik knows that he will definitely be in the scheme of things. Especially when given the fact that his batting is more reliable than Saha’s, and this side sees a huge role for him. Despite being in and out, Karthik may have never felt like a part of the side. But it seems different this time.

He even sounded apologetic while thanking Tamil Nadu Cricket Association for sticking by his side. There were moments where he even shelved his keeping gloves to become a specialist batsman, and took them back the moment Dhoni retired from Tests. It did cause a trouble or two within Tamil Nadu’s camp, with some calling him selfish. But he weathered the storm.

As an important phase begins, Karthik was not getting into the question of what he has to do to keep Saha out permanently. “I think if you go deep into that question and figure out what I can do to keep someone out, then you’re taking energy away from the fact that you’re competing with somebody.

That puts a little bit of extra pressure than what is already there. What I’m looking to do, as cliched as it sounds, is be the best cricketer I can be. Not only on the field, but off it too. They keep saying, ‘Do your processes and things will follow’. So I’m just doing what I think is right.”

venkatakrishna@newindianexpress.com

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