It has been an extraordinary season for seasoned cricketer Dinesh Karthik. Making a comeback into the national side on the back of a destructive IPL, which saw him bat at a strike-rate of 183.33, the 37-year-old grabbed the opportunity with both hands. After his rich outings against South Africa in the recently-concluded T20I series, experts believe Karthik to be one of the forerunner in India’s T20 World Cup squad.
However, this wasn’t the case almost a year ago with Karthik struggling to find his feat in the Kolkata Knight Riders camp. As compared to this year’s record in IPL, which saw him amass 330 runs from 16 encounters, the wicketkeeper-batter had managed 223 runs from 17 matches in the previous edition, which came at a comparatively lower strike-rate of 131.17.
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Apart from his stint in the IPL, Karthik was also seen performing commentating duties during the World Test Championship finals and the following the India vs England red-ball series.
Sunil Gavaskar, who was also part of the commentary panel, usually spent most of his time with Karthik in close quarters. And recalling the days, the 1983 World Cup winner shared interesting incidents from the trip to England about how Karthik “put in the hard yards” to make a comeback to the national side.
“When we (him and Dinesh Karthik) went for the World Test Championship we were pretty much having lunch, breakfast, dinner together. And over there he was telling me about his ambition to come back in the India team for the T20 World Cup,” said Gavaskar during an interaction on Star Sports.
“He wasn’t in line for the one in UAE but this time around he looks very well to be part of the flight that takes to Melbourne,” he added.
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The ‘Little Master’ also shared Karthik’s practice routine, which involved creating various scenarios in mind and training as per the requirements.
“He was telling me, how he was creating situation in his mind and practicing according to them. So it was not just mindless practice, it was thoughtful practice. It was practice according to what the situation might be when he’s out there,” the former cricketer said.
Elaborating more on the same, Gavaskar added: “Because if you’re batting at 6 and 7, you’re not going to get 20 overs, not 18 overs. You’re gonna get 5-6, maybe if the wickets fall nine overs to bat but in those nine, how to go about it is what he was practicing.”
The 72-year-old cricketer-turned-commentator also mentioned Karthik getting himself enrolled in a better facility in order to continue his “special training”.
“He was also training so he got out from the hotel gym because it wasn’t good enough. He wanted to do some special training. He went and got himself enrolled in a club.
“That tells you about the dedication and keenness to comeback into the Indian team. And the way he’s playing now that’ll only make you admire. You’ve put in the hard yards and it’s the reward,” said the batting legend.
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As predicted by Gavaskar, Karthik got very less balls to face in the series. But he ensured to put up a show in all possible capacity in the limited opportunities he got. Batting at a strike-rate of 158.62, the right-handed batter accumulated 92 runs in the four innings he played.
In fact in the fourth T20I in Rajkot, Karthik scored a 27-ball 55, which saw him surpass former India skipper MS Dhoni to become the oldest Indian batter to score a half-century in T20 Internationals. Incidentally Karthik was also part of the team, which was fielded in India’s maiden T20I, which was against the same opponent in Johannesburg in 2006. The Men in Blue had won the low-scoring encounter by six wickets.