Even before the mega auction for the 2022 season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) had happened, Dinesh Karthik had announced his big intentions for the season – to make India return for 2022 T20 World Cup squad and help the team end ICC trophy drought. And even through the early part of his campaign for Royal Challengers Bangalore in IPL 2022, Karthik had reiterated the same. But not many gave Karthik a chance to make the India squad once again with the team already having as many as four wicketkeeping options. But Karthik left the selectors with no choice following a breathtaking show in the entire IPL season and the 36-year-old repaid the faith in top-class fashion as he clobbered big runs for India in the T20I series against South Africa.
Making his first appearance for India since the 2019 ODI World Cup, Karthik has smashed 92 runs for India in the series at a strike rate of 158.6 and with a boundary rate of 3.8 balls, and the tally includes a half-century as well. In the death overs, he has scored 84 runs at a strike rate of 186.7 with a boundary every 3.2 balls.
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Hailing Karthik as an inspiration, star India all-rounder Hardik Pandya recalled the conversation he had with the 36-year-old when he weren’t in India’s scheme of things for the T20 World Cup in Australia and how most had counted him out already.
“I need to tell you this, genuinely I want to tell you this, you have given a lot of inspiration to many guys in their life.
“I remember the conversation you were having when you were not in the scheme of things, a lot of people counted you out,” Hardik told Karthik during their discussion on BCCI.tv.
In the fourth game against South Africa, Karthik walked in when India were struggling at 81 for 4. But the batter smashed a 27-ball 55 and stitched an impressive 65-run stand for the fifth wicket with Hardik to help India finish with a challenging total.
“I remember those conversations. You told me then that my goal is to play for India again and the goal is to play this World Cup, I am going to give it my everything, and seeing you achieve that is very inspirational.
“A lot of people are going to learn new things. Well done my brother, very proud of you,” Hardik added.
The series decider will be played in Bengaluru on Sunday.