Team India made a magnificent comeback in the five-match T20I series against South Africa, beating the visitors by 82 runs on Friday to level the series 2-2 with a game to go. Dinesh Karthik was the star of the night with the bat, slamming a brilliant 55 off just 27 deliveries to take India’s score to 169/6. Avesh Khan, then, was the pick of the bowlers with impressive figures of 4/18 as South Africa could only score 87/9, with their skipper Temba Bavuma being retired hurt on 9.
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Karthik had made a return to the Indian team after almost 3 years for the South Africa series, thanks to his explosive performances in the 2022 Indian Premier League for the Royal Challengers Bangalore. The 37-year-old wicketkeeper-batter scored 330 runs in 16 matches at a brilliant strike rate of 183.33.
Former India cricketer Sanjay Bangar, who worked closely with Karthik as head coach for the RCB in the season, spoke in detail about the player and revealed that the veteran batter used to play local tournaments to gain experience during his time away from international cricket.
“He has the hunger. When he wasn’t playing in the IPL, he played a lot in domestic T20 cricket. When even those matches were over, he went to Madurai and many other places to play local cricket. He wanted to practice in open wickets, as much as he could. And he is now reaping the rewards of his hard work. He has set a standard by showing such grit, determination and brilliance to make a return to the Indian team,” Bangar said on Star Sports following the 4th T20I.
Furthermore, Bangar also pointed out a major difference in Dinesh Karthik’s approach ahead of the season.
“Many a time, statistics can be misleading. I remember the game against RR where Ashwin and Chahal were bowling; the stats showed that Karthik wasn’t strong against spin, but he proved it wrong. The main difference between the previous season and this one was that he came with a positive approach. He wanted to take on the spinners. You would’ve noticed, he attempted shots like sweep, reverse-sweep, slog-sweep to perfection against spin bowlers,” said Bangar, who has also served as India’s batting coach.