A couple of weeks back, Dinesh Karthik was playing in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy and preparing himself for India’s ODI series in South Africa. Even in the wildest stretch of the imagination, he would not have dreamed of getting a call for his inclusion in the Test side. What transpired would have certainly made him a believer in destiny.
Both Parthiv Patel and Karthik made their debuts before MS Dhoni. However, it was Dhoni’s explosive batting and adequate keeping which did not let the two cement their spots in the side. Now, with Wriddhiman Saha ruled out of the series and Parthiv Patel failing to deliver the goods behind the wickets, it is almost certain that Dinesh Karthik will make the playing XI in the 3rd Test.
Let us have a look at his five qualities that justify his selection in the Test team.
Karthik announced to the world that he has struck some genuine form when he slammed his third half-century in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy recently. His 56-run knock against Goa came after his explosive 71 against Kerala. Both these knocks helped him notch up 211 runs in five innings.
Of late, Karthik has been striking the ball well. He was sensational in the Duleep Trophy where he notched up a ton for the India Red team. The Tamil Nadu keeper has scored 296 runs in four first-class matches at an impressive average of 59.20.
It was the third Test match of India’s tour of South Africa in 2006-07. The series was levelled at 1-1. After warming the benches in the first two matches, Karthik finally got a game in the third Test at Cape Town. He grabbed the opportunity with both hands as he scored a grinding 170-ball 63, while opening the batting against the likes of Dale Steyn and Makhaya Ntini.
Karthik features in the short list of Indian players who have a number of overseas runs in their kitties. He has scores of 60 (at Lords), 77 (at Nottingham) and 91 (at the Oval) in England, which is known for its tough batting conditions. In India’s 2007 tour of England, when the ball moved around, a young Karthik courageously faced the opposition.
If Parthiv Patel is dropped from the third Test match (which seems most likely, at the moment) it will be because of his keeping skills – and not because of his failure as a batsman. Patel’s dropped catches in the second Test reiterated the fact that a keeper is one of the most underrated members of the playing XI. If they lack efficiency, they can single-handedly deny victories for the team.
Dinesh Karthik is a way better keeper when compared to Parthiv Patel. If we are to rank the three in terms of their glove work, it would be – Saha, Karthik and Patel in the same order. To begin with, the 32-year old was not among the best keepers. However, he worked hard on this aspect of his game and has improved enormously over the years.
It was 14 years ago, when a 19-year-old boy made his Test debut against Australia at Mumbai in 2004. Karthik’s journey has been a roller coaster one ever since. He has done well in patches. As a result, he has not been able to feature regularly on the side.
Having played his last Test match against Bangladesh in 2010, Karthik comes in with a decade-and- a-half experience in international cricket. He has a long and prolific List A career of 206 matches (and counting). The Tamil Nadu batsman has amassed 6043 runs at an average of a shade under 40 – his highest score being an unbeaten 154.
He also has 11 centuries and 32 half-centuries to his name that are a testament to his batting prowess.
Like Parthiv, Karthik is also an able back-foot player. He is strong with the cut and the pull shots – and can pretty much handle himself against pace. From opening to batting at number seven, Karthik has batted at all positions for the sake of the team’s balance.
Meet anyone in Tamil Nadu cricket – and they will tell you that Dinesh Karthik is one of the most selfless blokes you’ll ever come across. “After a point in my career, I realised that it’s good to score those runs but you are remembered a lot of because of the tournaments you’ve won and the number of times you’ve stood up in big matches,” says Karthik.