Dinesh Karthik made his comeback to the Indian side in the recent One-Day International series against New Zealand, and has credited his return as well as good performances to advice from Abhishek Nayar, the Mumbai allrounder.
With MS Dhoni being the first-choice wicketkeeper in the limited-overs teams, it is as a specialist batsman that Karthik has to make a mark in whatever opportunities he gets, especially at No. 4 as India search for a batsman who can make a difference from that spot.
Karthik, however, has not been losing sleep over his international future, and the 37 and match-winning 64 not out he scored in the first two ODI against New Zealand should keep him in the team for the upcoming exchanges against Sri Lanka.
“I would not be where I am without Abhishek Nayar,” Karthik was quoted as saying by Press Trust of India on Monday (November 13). “Working with him is an ongoing process. We discuss a lot about the game, mostly on the phone since we are both busy playing. Before the New Zealand series, he advised me to show intent from ball one, be very aggressive.”
Though he made his international debut in 2004, Karthik hasn’t had too many opportunities since Dhoni cemented his place in the Indian teams for all formats.
He was again left out for the Sri Lanka tour as Pandey returned, but returned for the New Zealand games after scoring two centuries in the Duleep Trophy 2017-18.
Karthik was recalled for the Champions Trophy 2017 in June as a replacement for the injured Manish Pandey. Although he didn’t get a game in the UK, Karthik played his first ODI in over three years in the subsequent limited-overs series in the Caribbean, where he scored two, 50 not out and 48 in his three outings.
“Maybe it is (the last chance) but I have not looked at it that way,” said Karthik. “If you start thinking on those lines (future), you put extra pressure on yourself. I am satisfied with the way I batted in the ODI series against New Zealand and will aim to do the same whenever I get the next opportunity.”
Young wicketkeeper-batsmen like Sanju Samson and Rishabh Pant have shown promise, and Parthiv Patel has continued to knock on the selectors’ doors, not to forget Wriddhiman Saha, the No. 1 choice in Test cricket, but Karthik isn’t fazed. He said he was focused on improving his game after taking key inputs from Ravi Shastri, the India coach.
“In terms of feelers from the team management, nothing has been communicated,” he said. “But regarding my batting, I did have a long chat with Ravi bhai. He was happy with my batting against New Zealand but he said there are still areas where I can improve upon, especially maintaining the tempo of the innings, since he feels I have all the shots. I agree with him and that is what I would look to do.”
Having played under multiple captains over the years, Karthik has closely seen India’s progress over the years. He praised Virat Kohli’s leadership and said that the Indian team had benefitted from their captain’s fitness culture. “With a leader like Virat, who has absolutely got it spot-on in terms of fitness – he has built his lifestyle around it – the team members are learning a lot from that and they can see the exceptional performances he has been able to give in the last five-six years. It has trickled down to the players,” gushed Karthik.