Many fans and experts had doubted RCB’s 5.5 crore mega-auction pick Dinesh Karthik, for some people felt that Karthik was a “full-time commentator and a part-time cricketer”. With the IPL 2021 halted mid-way, Karthik ventured into the commentary box and become a loved figure.
Some reckoned that RCB made a blunder, but they perhaps didn’t know – or refused to acknowledge – that Dinesh Karthik had led Tamil Nadu to the Syed Mushtaq Ali title and slammed a century in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final.
With the departure of the retired AB de Villiers, RCB needed a finisher to take up the vacant role. They had marked the veteran wicket-keeper for that role and got a perfect man for that.
6 innings into the tournament, Karthik has not only shown that’s he’s still got it – but is now knocking on the national selectors’ door once again for a spot in India’s T20I eleven – 16 years after he was named the Man of the Match in India’s first-ever T20I and highlighted what India have missed in the past couple of years.
Karthik was harshly dropped from the T20I side after the debacle of the 2019 ODI World Cup semi-final – an axing which the then management and selectors would have been regretting now.
— Ravi Shastri (@RaviShastriOfc) April 16, 2022
The raw numbers of Dinesh Karthik this season tell the story in itself: 6 innings, 5 not outs, 197 runs (average also 197) and the most important aspect of all: his strike rate of 209! This strike rate of 36-year-old Karthik is better than even a certain Andre Russell’s 197.
In fact among only batters – ignoring bowlers such as the likes of Pat Cummins and Daniel Sams whose sample size is small – Dinesh Karthik has the second-best strike rate this season, after only Punjab’s Bhanuka Rajapaksa’s 230. That too, it should be noted, Rajapaksa has played half the games Karthik has and has scored 83 runs in 3 matches with that strike rate.
The RCB finisher has hit the fourth-most number of sixes – 14 – so far this season – behind overseas stars Jos Buttler, Andre Russell and Shimron Hetmyer.
Twice he’s won the Man of the Match award – vs RR and vs DC – and both times Karthik was tasked with rescuing a middle-order collapse. Both times he’d had to come early and start slow before teeing off.
Before being dropped from the Indian team, Dinesh Karthik had been sensational: since the start of 2017, in 23 T20Is, Karthik averaged 49 at a strike rate of 157.
Further, he is one of the only few Indian batters – you can really count them on fingers of one hand – who has the 360-degree range and the confidence to execute it at any stage of the match. DK is calmer than ever, is clearer in his role and shot selection than he’d ever felt.
After receiving the Player of the Match award vs Rajasthan, Dinesh Karthik said that his shot-making is “mostly premeditating” and he also understands the “need to be clear about where to target”.
“My aim is to do something special for the country. This is part of the journey. I have been doing everything I can to be part of that Indian team. This is one step in that direction.”
It would now be surprising if DK is not on the flight to Australia.