“I genuinely believed that I could hit a six,” said Dinesh Karthik as he reflected upon refusing a single to non-striker Krunal Pandya during the final over of India’s defeat to New Zealand in the series-deciding third T20I at Hamilton.
The tour finale on Sunday, 10 February, had boiled down to a riveting finish, but things didn’t go as per plan in the final over, in which India required 16 runs to win – and the wicketkeeper-batsman has no qualms in accepting the same.
Karthik refused the single to Krunal off the third ball of the over, bowled by Tim Southee, with India still 14 runs away from their 213-run target.
“I think Krunal and I batted really well from that situation (145/6). We backed ourselves to do the job. And at that stage (after refusing the single), I genuinely believed that I could hit a six.Dinesh Karthik to PTI
‘Have to Trust Your Ability’
Despite the ‘blip’ in the decider against New Zealand, Karthik remains one of India’s most effective finishers in the shorter formats.
Even at Hamilton, it was only Karthik (33 not out of 16 balls) and Krunal’s (26 not out off 13 balls) heroics which brought India close to a victory, after having been left with 68 runs to win off 28 balls when they fell to 145/6 in the 16th over.
“As a middle-order batsman, a lot of times you have to trust your ability to play those big shots under pressure. It is also important to trust your partner at that time. I did not come off on that occasion but those things happen in the game of cricket.”Dinesh Karthik to PTI
Karthik and Krunal’s undefeated 63-run stand, off just 4.4 overs, wasn’t enough to prevent a four-run loss – with it, ending India’s unbeaten run in T20I series since August 2017.
“Some days you are able to hit a boundary, some days the bowler does a good job. And there, you have to give credit to Tim Southee for the way he executed those yorkers under pressure. One mistake there and I am sure we would have take him down,” said Karthik.
‘Team Understood The Game Plan’
Asked if the team management had a word with him on not taking that single, Karthik said: “They were all aware of the situation and knew we both did the best we could. On that day, we were not good enough. But the support staff, as it has been around for a long time, understood it (our game plan).”
“As I said, you keep practising those situations and because the belief I had in overcoming those situations in practice, I trusted myself do the job in the middle. I was not able to deliver it that day. That is what sport is. The more you back yourself, the more consistent you become in finishing the game.”Dinesh Karthik to PTI
Farmer to Finisher: DK 2.0
Having made his international debut almost 15 years ago, Karthik has managed to play only 26 Tests, 91 ODIs and 30 T20Is.
But over the last 24 months, his stop-start career seems to have found a second wind and he has featured in as many as 20 ODIs and 21 T20Is, besides making a Test comeback after more than eight years.
Karthik, who has credited Mumbai stalwart Abhishek Nayar for his recent success, can’t recollect days when he has batted better.
“If you go by the results, definitely yes (his best run in international cricket). It has been a good couple of years. There is some continuity and that feels good. The team has also done well so it has been a great couple of years to be a part of.”Dinesh Karthik to PTI
The 33-year-old, however, knows that he will have to be on top of his game in the upcoming limited overs series against Australia if he is to guarantee himself a berth in the World Cup squad.
“As an international cricketer, you have to keep reinventing the wheel, being consistent is part of it. There will be questions asked and you have to keep answering them (with your performances),” Karthik said.
“If you read into those things too much (of proving yourself repeatedly), it only pulls you down. It is important that whatever opportunities you get, you do the best you can.”Dinesh Karthik to PTI
‘I’m Not Fixed at No. 5 or 6’
Karthik said his long career, albeit an inconsistent one, has helped him immensely in his development as a finisher. He has reached a stage where batting under pressure has become second nature to him.
“Abhishek and I have been practising those situations for long now. Preparing on different wickets, different days, it helps.
“As a player, you want to revel in those situations. That is when you raise the bar for yourself and for your team as well.”
Has the team management told him that number six is the spot for him in the batting order?
“Not really. They are also very flexible in in their approach. I don’t think they have fixed me at number five or six.”Dinesh Karthik to PTI
“They just believe that whatever opportunity they will give me at any position, they know that I will do the best that I can. They know that I am able to finish games, irrespective of the batting position,” added Karthik.