Wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, who has consistently been amongst the runs in the domestic circuit, is now eyeing a batsman’s slot in the national team, knowing all too well that it was far from easy to displace Wriddhiman Saha and Mahendra Singh Dhoni from their respective positions in Tests and limited overs cricket….writes Debayan Mukherjee
Karthik, who recently led Tamil Nadu to their fifth Vijay Hazare title by scoring 112 in the final against Bengal, finished the one-dayers as the top run-getter averaging 86.71, while amassing 607 runs in nine matches.
In the Ranji Trophy, the 31-year old totalled 704 runs in 10 matches at an average of 54.15.
Playing for India Blue in the Duleep Trophy, the right-hander scored 211 runs in the three games he played, averaging 52.75.
Next up is the Deodhar Trophy where Karthik will again lead Tamil Nadu against the likes of Harbhajan Singh’s India A and Parthiv Patel’s India B.
“This season has gone well for me and for the team (Tamil Nadu). We will look to continue the good form in the Deodhar Trophy as well,” Karthik said.
Karthik, who has played 23 Tests and 71 One-day Internationals (ODI) for India, last donned the hallowed blue in 2014 in a 50-over game against Afghanistan in the Asia Cup under Virat Kohli’s captaincy.
“I see myself competing for a batsman’s slot. I keep scoring runs and at the moment the team has six-seven places for batsmen. So I think I can contribute in the team in that way,” Karthik said.
“I have been playing well for the last few seasons and my runs speak for themselves. I feel my batting skills are good enough to pick me solely as batsman,” he said, dropping a hint to the national selectors ahead of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy in England in June.
The Vijay Hazare final century was his 10th List A century. For India, Karthik has seven half-centuries in both Tests and ODIs with only one ton in whites.
But at the moment it would be improbable to pencil Karthik in as a keeper with both Saha and Dhoni rubber-stamping their places.
While Saha’s latest and perhaps his best knock of 117 in the third Test against Australia in Ranchi, coupled with his brilliant glove work, is another testament as to why the Bengal stumper will remain India’s No. 1 choice behind the wicket in the longest format of the game; Dhoni, at 35, still walks into the limited overs XI.
Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel also made a comeback during the England series, replacing an injured Saha.
Among the younger crop of keepers, Delhi’s 19-year-old southpaw Rishabh Pant and Jharkhand’s 18-year-old Ishan Kishan are also in line.
From his personal ambitions to the current India-Australia series, Karthik did not want to comment on off-field issues that have mired the battle somewhat, rather talking about the on-field duel which according to him has been intriguing.
“It’s been a brilliant series to watch. The brand of cricket has been great. There have been lots of ups and downs for both teams. I feel it will be an excellent Test match at Dharamsala,” he said.
Asked to comment on the Australian media taking a dig at Indian skipper Virat Kohli, Karthik, whose last game for India was under Kohli’s leadership, preferred to remain coy.
“It will not be right for me to comment on this. I haven’t seen the incidents on the field or read about them. I think India have played really well and have shown a lot of character.”
In the upcoming 10th edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), starting April 5, Karthik will feature for the Gujarat Lions, led by Suresh Raina.
Exuding confidence about his side, who will take on former champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Rajkot on April 7, Karthik said: “We have got a good set of all-rounders which gives us a lot of options. The team is well balanced and I am sure we will put up a good challenge.”