The five-match home series against South Africa kicked off the second half of India’s preparation for the 2022 T20 World Cup. And while India head coach Rahul Dravid refrained from making any comment or case on a player’s chances for the big tournament in Australia later this year, he was effusive in his praise for a India star, saying that “he is knocking very hard” for the T20 World Cup selection.
Dravid was full of praise for Dinesh Karthik, who tremendous batting in the T20I series against South Africa made most veterans and experts rethink about their ideal XI or squad for the World Cup. In four innings in the series, Karthik smashed 92 runs at a strike rate of 158.6.
Dravid revealed that Karthik was picked for a very “specific role” and the experienced batter combined well with Hardik Pandya in the Rajkot tie last Friday to help India level the series. Karthik has scored a 27-ball 55 in the match, while Hardik pulled off a 31-ball 46 that helped India add 73 runs in the last five overs and lift the team to a match-winning total of 169.
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“He was picked for a very specific skill,” Dravid said of Karthik in the post-match conference on Sunday in Bengaluru. “And it’s nice when that’s kind of indicated in a sense that it came together brilliantly for us in the Rajkot game, where we needed that big performance in the last five overs to be able to make a par score. He and Hardik [Pandya] batted beautifully for us; both of them are our enforcers at the end, guys who can capitalise on those last five-six overs.
“They are probably two of the best in the world in those last five-six overs. So, yeah, it was really nice to see Karthik come off and do what he has been picked to do. It certainly opens up a lot more options for us going forward. Innings like that certainly make you start. Like I was telling the guys it’s not about knocking the door – you have to start banging the door down, and an innings like that certainly means he is knocking very hard.”
India still have 10 more T20I games to play across three series before the World Cup and Karthik has been retained for the impending two-match contest against Ireland which will be played later this month.
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