India under Kumble did well to win the first Test against arch rivals, Pakistan. Kumble’s wickets in both innings, his decent batting performance, followed by his use of Ganguly’s bowling talents were clearly his personal highlights of the match. He understandably won the Man of the Match award. The great news for India was that it was an all round performance by the team. Wasim Jaffer’s innings in the second innings in particular was commendable (not to take away credit from the others who are all seasoned contributors!). It is great to see Jaffer’s cool and composed approach to Shoaib Akthar’s genuine fast bowling.
Dinesh Karthick’s failure in both innings is bound to raise some questions. While its true that he has scored a lot of runs this year, never before has he been tested by genuine quick bowling. All his Test runs have been scored against Bangladesh and an English team minus its top bowlers. Secondly, until now, Karthick has hardly ever opened the innings even for his home state of Tamil Nadu. Unfortunately, the Indian selectors have a track record of destroying many players by forcing them to open the innings in Test matches. It makes little sense to continue this experiment at the Test level when a regular opener like Gautam Gambhir is in such prime form. The left-right combination at the top of the order will add some variety to the batting as well.
Karthick is an ideal ODI and T20 player for the second half of the overs. He is better equipped at innovative stroke play than conventional technically sound batting, which is what is required in Test cricket. Along with his excellent fielding and backup wicket keeping abilities he makes a versatile addition to the T20/ODI team.
It is fair to continue to try Karthick in Tests based on his success this past year. But the move to try him as an opener was the wrong one in the first place. It would be great to see him succeed against the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Umar Gul, but I don’t believe the odds are high.
The sad news for Karthick is that if he fails in the remaining Tests, he might find himself out of all three teams. He has already been dropped from the ODI team and did not make it to the T20 playing eleven. With Dhoni in-charge in these two forms of the game, Karthick might be running out of time. Ironically, if he retains his place in the Test team with a good innings or two in this series, he might bolster his case for a place in the other two teams!