CHENNAI: Dinesh Karthik was playing in his 121st international. Since debut against England at Lord’s in 2004, his career has meandered along, like a no-frills river. If his international career was to be extrapolated on to an ECG, it would be an attending cardiologist’s dream. No flat lines, no blips. Just a monotonous drone. Beat. Beat. Beat.
Something changed on Sunday night, when he walked into face his 4,228th ball in international cricket. The eight balls against Bangladesh in the final elevated his career to never-before-seen heights.That much was clear when he addressed the media at the Madras Cricket Club on Tuesday. He had separate question and answer sessions for TV and print media — a rare occurrence given most cricketers constantly look at their watches and their agents during press conferences. The ones who had organised the meet had no idea what was in store. They had legislated for five cameras and 20 faces and were in for a shock when more than 10 cameras and 50 media persons made their presence felt.
The 32-year-old, though, did not mind it. It was a long time coming for a sportsperson whose main competitor went by the name of MS Dhoni. “It is probably karma I guess,” he said when asked about his life changed in a span of eight balls. “For all the good things I have done, that two mm extra it (the ball) went... was a great thing for me. Probably all the good things you do over the years come to fruition. It just feels good, that suddenly after so many years there is a lot of attention on me.”
While Indian fans are still tagging him on Twitter to congratulate him, Karthik is well aware that his Hail Mary moment will count for little if it doesn’t mean the start of something. “You want this moment to be the start of something special,” he explained. “You don’t want to get too carried away. From here on in, I want to do things like that (taking India home in crunch situations) on a consistent basis.”
Even as the conversation took a predictable path — comparisons with Dhoni — he swatted it away like it was a Soumya Sarkar length ball. “When it comes to Dhoni, I am studying at the university in which he is the topper,” he smiled. “So it is unfair for me to be compared with him.”
A big problem KKR’s new skipper has had since breaking into the national team is the stop-start nature of his career. Given that is his predicament right now, he concedes it’s a tough gig.“It is a hard thing to make every chance you get count. Whenever you get time for practice, you try and get some batting and be in a place where you feel if you get a chance to play you can do well. It is important to be in that zone (ready to play whenever you get the chance) all the time.
He has found the zone’s postcode thanks to a continuing stint with player-turned-mentor Abhishek Nayar over the last two-three years. Even then, one part of his answer on comparisons with Dhoni was surprising. “I have (just) started my journey. Let us see how it goes.”One suspects his new avatar will attract more than a few curious onlookers.
No to Tamil Nadu captaincy
Former Tamil Nadu captain Dinesh Karthik said he won’t be open to the idea of captaining the state again. “I feel the mantle needs to be passed on. In my opinion, Vijay Shankar has done a fabulous job in one-dayers and T20. In Ranji, Abhinav Mukund did well for a couple of seasons but this season hasn’t gone well. In terms of Ranji captaincy for TN, my time is up. I want to help whoever is captain and I do feel I don’t have it in me to lead the state team right now.”