Chennai: It has been 14 years since Dinesh Karthik made his India debut as a starry-eyed teenager, but all it has taken to make a lasting impression was an eight-ball innings that he spectacularly produced in the final of the Nidahas Trophy last Sunday. “I guess, it’s karma,” said Karthik.
The 32-year-old believes all the good things that he had done through his career helped him hit that flat six off the last ball. “If it had been a four, it would have been a superover and a different scenario. The ball went a few millimeters extra and it turned out be my memorable night,” added Karthik.
The Tamil Nadu wicket-keeper batsman has scored more than 9,000 first-class runs and 6,000 in List-A. He has made millions through IPL contracts. But the attention he has been getting since the glorious night in Colombo is unprecedented.
“It just feels good that suddenly after so many years there is a lot of attention on me. I don’t want to get carried away by this. From here on, I want to do things like this more consistently,” he added.
Having spent a majority of his career as an understudy of M.S. Dhoni, Karthik has finally emerged out of the superstar’s shadow. The original finisher’s prowess has waned and is running his last miles, but Karthik doesn’t want to jump the gun.
“Let things take their own course. When it comes to the comparison with Dhoni, I am just studying in the university in which he is the topper. So it is unfair to compare. His journey has been totally different. I am happy with where I am today. I have finished a few innings while chasing. It has given me confidence that I can pull it off. In ODIs, they are looking at me to bat slightly up the order. I am keeping all my options open,” he added.
The money that Karthik made through hefty IPL contracts was invested back to develop his own game so that he could make India comeback. He would travel to different places to get acclimatised to conditions and roped in coaches from other states to get perspective.
Karthik has worked with a number of mentors — Prasanna Aghoram (currently South Africa video analyst), Pravin Amre, Abhishek Nayar and Apurva Desai — in the last six years. But the association with Mumbai stalwart Abhishek made a sea change in his approach.
Karthik found it hard to put in words how indebted he was to Abhishek. “He has been the most important factor in the last two and a half years. He has made me do things that I am not comfortable doing. He has always put me in a situation I’m not comfortable with. He improved my mental strength. He has taken me down a path that has helped improve my cricket. He has been the river and I have been the boat. I have gone totally in his direction,” he said.
Karthik will be leading Kolkata Knight Riders in the upcoming IPL season. He feels the captaincy has come at the right time. “I want to embrace this challenge. I am excited to lead a bunch of boys who are highly talented. More importantly, being a captain of a team that has a solid fan base is an incredible feeling. I spoke to Jacques Kallis (KKR coach). He is someone who speaks very little. But whatever he says will have a lot of meaning to it. I am also looking forward to working with Simon Katich. I have heard lovely things about him as a coach and a person,” he added.
Karthik said India’s stand-in skipper Rohit was strategically strong. “His biggest strength as a captain is the fact that he has won three IPL titles. He has immense belief in his abilities to lead a team. He does his homework well. He has his own ideas, but gives the opportunity for the bowlers to set their field,” he said.
He has kept wickets to quite a few bowlers, but the one who tested him most was Virender Sehwag! “It may sound weird, but I used to find it really hard to keep wickets to him in Delhi Daredevils nets. When you think it will turn, it would go straight. When you expect a straighter delivery, it will turn,” he said.