It is not easy to excel when opportunities arise sporadically after remaining on the sidelines for a considerable part of one’s career. However, this is what two cricketers have done in the recent past. As the story of the perennial struggler from Mumbai, Pravin Tambe came to the fore, one could not help but remember one more cricketer who also went through some tough and testing times during his long but hardly illustrious career. However, unlike Tambe, he did not have to wait for long to play for his domestic side Tamil Nadu and the national team. Two common factors among both have been misfortune and the approaching age. So, as Dinesh Karthik knocks on the door of Team India yet again for the upcoming T-20 World Cup in Australia, it is worth pondering whether at the age of 37 is it a touch too late for him to earn a berth in the national side.
Enter The Dhoni & Goodbye Karthik
Dinesh Karthik started playing for India in 2004, the same year a certain “boy from Jharkhand” also started his international sojourn as a cricketer. At the beginning of his career, Karthik got a few chances to play for India but they proved to be too little for him to leave a good impact. Unfortunately for him, once the “Jharkhand boy”, Mahendra Singh Dhoni scored a century against Pakistan in an ODI in 2005 his international journey hit a major hurdle. As Dhoni’s stature grew on the international circuit Karthik began to fade away from the collective memory of the Team India selectors.
Nidahas Trophy & Karthik’s Miandad Moment
Once Dhoni became the all-format wicket-keeper and later on captain, Karthik’s appearances for the Indian team had turned too few and far in between. Also, he did not help his cause by putting up some rudimentary batting performances. However, stars, once again, started to align in his favour in 2018 when Dhoni was rested for a tri-series involving India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, Nidahas Trophy. In the final of the trophy against Bangladesh when India were staring at an imminent defeat Karthik played a breathtaking 8 ball 29, including a last-ball six, to seal the deal in India’s favour. All of a sudden, the entire world changed for the Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper batsman and he was back on the radar of the selection committee.
Earned A Spot In The 2019 World Cup Squad
As a result of the good show in the Nidahas Trophy, Karthik was included in the team announced for the 2019 World Cup. But unfortunately for him, a much younger wicket-keeper batsman from Delhi, Rishabh Pant also made it to the squad as a backup keeper for Dhoni. This meant that only a miracle can help Karthik feature in the playing XI. However, as luck would have it, he finally got the chance in the WC match against Bangladesh in 2019 when Team India think-tank finally lost its patience with Kedar Jadhav. But the new-found joy for Karthik turned out to be ephemeral as Team India’s World Cup campaign ended soon after, courtesy of the defeat against New Zealand in the Semis and Karthik was, yet again, staring at a bleak future after a couple of poor outings in the quadrennial event.
IPL 2022 Gives A New Lease Of Life
After the 2019 World Cup, it looked almost certain that Karthik’s journey as a Team India player is all over with several young players making their presence felt in the IPL seasons of 2020 and 2021. The indifference towards Karthik continued as he got regularly ignored for various international assignments, including the 2021 T-20 World Cup in the UAE. But the current edition of IPL has brought him back to the limelight with some scintillating knocks playing for the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB). So far in the current season, he has amassed 197 runs in six innings at a phenomenal strike rate of 207. This performance earned him a lot of praise from several quarters, including certain stalwarts of the game.
“I am very happy that DK is so clear with his goals. I can surely tell you that you (Karthik) have presented a very strong case, moving forward, playing T20 cricket not just for RCB but I am sure a lot of people are taking notice at the highest level as well,” Former Team India & RCB captain Virat Kohli said, dropping a hint that the wicket-keeper batsman might don Team India colours in future.
Sunny Backs Karthik To Give Finishing Touches
What’s working in Karthik’s favour, at the moment, is the lack of finishers in the Indian team to give a firm push towards the end of the innings. With Hardik Pandya’s fitness becoming a cause of concern once again and Ishan Kishen’s poor form in the IPL 2015 so far, Karthik fits the bill perfectly as a finisher as he is currently doing the same for the RCB. But the only question is: At 37, will selectors give Karthick one more chance at the expense of some promising youngsters to bow out with grace?
“He said he wants to be a part of the Indian Team for the T20 World Cup. So what I am saying is don’t look at his age, just look at what he’s producing. He’s doing the job that you can expect him to do at number 6 or 7 at the (T20) World Cup (in October-November),” Sunil Gavaskar said, backing the case of Karthik’s inclusion in the T-20 WC in Australia this year. Now, will the selectors find any merit in the views of legendary Gavaskar once they sit together to pick the squad for this year’s T-20 carnival down under?