Dinesh Karthik broke into the national cricket scene (after his heroics at the under-19 level) when he engineered a win for India in a T20 game against South Africa. Suddenly he was an all purpose cricketer. Before even he realized he was India’s opening batsmen in Tests despite the fact that he was never a regular opener even for his home state of Tamil Nadu! However, he had a good tour as opener in both against Bangladesh and England. But a poor series against Pakistan in India. Unfortunately for him, Rahul Dravid (who showed more faith in him than any other captain) suddenly stepped aside from both Test and ODIs.
A change in leadership in both forms of the game brought new challenges for the young man. In Tests Kumble did not have the same level of confidence in him as his predecessor. Kumble preferred a regular opener like Wasim Jaffer as first choice. Next, he preferred a wild card in Virender Sehwag. And as a third resort he preferred Irfan Pathan! Going by this, it is more than likely that if Sehwag or Jaffer were to fail, in all probability Kumble would prefer a regular opener such as Aakash Chopra or Gautam Gambhir. In short, Dinesh Karthik’s days as an opener are pretty much over. His only hope of playing Test cricket is if Dhoni were injured. Given the amount of cricket that Dhoni plays these days the likelihood of this possibility is pretty high.
The biggest piece of bad news is that India promoted someone to the Test opener level when they didn’t really belong there in the first place. Karthik is a classic utility cricketer (an amazing talent capable of adapting very well to pretty much any situation) suited to the ODI and T20 formats and to a lesser extent in Tests. He makes a good keeper and valuable lower order batsman in Tests at best.
The ODIs and T20s
Dinesh Karthik’s prospects in these forms of the game dimmed significantly with the rise of MS Dhoni. With Dhoni as captain a second wicket keeper getting a break in the playing eleven is next to impossible. Karthik got a chance in the T20 match in Australia in which he failed. With that his hopes of getting a break in the ODIs in Australia further vanished. When Yuvraj was injured Dhoni chose to experiment with a “fresh off the plane” Manoj Tiwari despite the fact that Karthik had been in Australia for over a month and had a lot more exposure to the conditions. Besides an in form Suresh Raina was still cooling his heals looking for a return to the ODI team.
In short, the only way Karthik can make it to the playing eleven in T20s or ODIs is if Dhoni were not playing. With Dhoni as captain, this scenario is highly unlikely unless he were injured. In this scenario, Karthik could soon find himself out of the T20 and/or ODI teams despite the fact that his skills are best suited to these forms of the game.
For the moment, Karthik’s best bet is to continue to perform at every stage both as a keeper and as a batsmen. His performance in the IPL for instance will be key for his future prospects despite the fact that it is of T20 format. The other possibility is that Dhoni himself and the Board might mutually decide to use Dhoni selectively in order to prolong his career and keep him injury free. In which case, Karthik should get the odd chance from time to time until another young keeper stakes his claim to the spot.
3 thoughts on “The Sad Case of Dinesh Karthik”
Pran: I agree largely with what you say but the title should read ‘The Lucky Case of Dinesh Karthik’. Think about it, he just about manages to keep a place in the TN team as a batsman – his Ranji record is poor. How can such a guy even find a place in the national 14. He does not yet have the batting class to make the cut. I really think this chap is lucky to be in the 14 for such a long while. Contrast his luck with just some names that readily come to my mind – S Badrinath (the TN captain). A batsman with technique and patience whose domestic record and performances with India A have been overlooked. Cheteshwar Pujara – the 20 year old from Baroda who is a precocious talent has yet to materialise into something meaningful. Ambati Rayudu of AP – an aggressive bat and former captain of India U 19s (mishandled, neglected – it is another matter that he has recently dug his own grave with his tantrums). Akash Chopra – India’s best opening bat for tests (sound performances with Middlesex). Rajat Bhatia (of TN/Delhi) – attractive and prolific scorer. All these talents have been overlooked to accommodate Dinesh Karthik in the 14. He surely is a lucky bloke. Jaidev
You bring up some interesting points. I don’t disagree with your assessment of his batting class. I feel he is not a Test class opener. But its hard to argue with his versatility. He is a decent keeper, brilliant fielder and scored so well as opener in the Test series in England! He single handedly won the first T20 in SA. I think he will be a good asset in T20 and ODIs. But with Dhoni around he has to wait for him to be injured or perform out of the ordinary to stake a claim. In short, I think his future at the highest level is in pretty flaky for now.
Regarding the rest. Pujara can wait his turn. He has to work his way up by scoring in the domestic circuit for a few seasons. Rayuda showed lot of initial promise and then failed consistently in the domestic circuit (similar case is RS Sodhi). Btw, Rayadu has failed in the ICL as well. Akash Chopra deserves a chance. If Jaffer is out, he’ll probably get the call. For now, Viru is set until his 300 is forgotten. Rajat Bhatia I don’t know much about. As for Badrinath I have written many times in favor of his selection. Search for Badrinath on my blog.
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