Dinesh Karthik needs to realise that time may be running out on his international career if he doesn’t perform upto the mark © Getty Images (File Photo)
Dinesh Karthik has been in poor form with the bat and gloves in the Asia Cup 2014. He has not scored enough runs, but more importantly has made errors behind the stumps that have cost India dearly in the tournament. His place is never guaranteed due to MS Dhoni’s presence. But he should perform to his fullest regardless of the situation, writes Shrikant Shankar.
When MS Dhoni was ruled out of the Asia Cup 2014, the obvious choice to replace him was Dinesh Karthik as wicketkeeper. Karthik is a very good wicketkeeper and handy batsman in the middle-order. His place though is never secured as Dhoni is not only India’s captain, but also the best player in the shorter formats. Karthik’s form with the bat also varies in One-Day Internationals (ODIs).
But he was chosen in the Indian squad for the Asia Cup. He started off well against hosts Bangladesh. He had a stumping and a catch. He only got to bat for seven deliveries as India were close to victory when he came in. India duly won the match by six wickets. But in their second match against Sri Lanka, Karthik fluffed his chance to stump Kumar Sangakkara. At the time, the left-handed batsman had not even crossed 30 runs.
Ravindra Jadeja bowled one down the leg side and Sangakkara got an inside edge. He was out of his crease and Karthik collected the ball and swung his arm. But he missed the stumps completely. Before he could swing again and dislodge the bails, Sangakkara got his bat into the crease and it was too late. Sri Lanka were chasing a 265-run target and they had just crossed the 140-run mark. Sangakkara went onto score 103 off 84 deliveries as Sri Lanka won by a narrow margin of two wickets with only four deliveries remaining.
Even during India’s innings, Karthik got out to a poor shot. He tried to smash only his third delivery over the top and mistimed it inside the 30-yard circle. It was an immature shot at a wrong time against Ajantha Mendis. There were other instances where his footwork did not look great. In India’s third match against Pakistan, he came out to bat quite early. India were at 103 for four when Karthik joined Ambati Rayudu.
He didn’t play any rash strokes as the situation called for a calm approach. Karthik shared a 52-run partnership with Rayudu for the fifth wicket at a run-rate of 4.05. He labored along to a 46-ball 23 before being dismissed. Karthik top-edged a sweep shot to a length delivery from Mohammad Hafeez to Saeed Ajmal at short fine-leg. Karthik had in fact got a four playing a similar shot earlier. He attempted a premeditated sweep and got out. He might have dug in and got India to a better position, but when one’s position in the team is not a certainty, more is required.
Just getting your eye in is not enough. Playing long and eventful innings when the team is in trouble is what increases one’s stock as a batsman. Playing a premeditated shot in a tricky situation against a competent opposition is not the way to go. Karthik then missed a good chance to stump Sohaib Maqsood in Pakistan’s innings. Chances like these do not come often and Karthik needs to take them every time. He did not look comfortable keeping to the Indian spinners.
India went onto lose to Pakistan by only one wicket with two deliveries remaining. There is one more match for India in the Asia Cup against Afghanistan, but they are all but out of contention for a spot in the final. One cannot put any blame squarely on Karthik, but if those two stumping chances were taken, India could have won both the matches.
Dhoni is sure to come into the squad for the ICC World T20 2014 and Karthik might not be selected. A good show in the Asia Cup might have got into the squad purely as a batsman and a reserve wicketkeeper. One thing is for sure, Karthik is not helping himself with some poor shows with both bat and glove.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)