Dinesh Karthik's 8-ball 29 sealed the Nidahas Trophy final for India © AFP
Dinesh Karthik’s 8-ball 29 sealed the Nidahas Trophy final for India © AFP

A 21-year-old Dinesh Karthik had finished things off in India’s first ever T20I, back in December 2006. More than 11 years on, Karthik continues to find himself in the fringes of national side and will hope that this Sunday marks the beginning of the change of things. Filling in for MS Dhoni in the Nidahas Trophy 2018, Karthik had done a good job with bat. Thus, it surprised fans when Rohit Sharma promoted Vijay Shankar to No. 6 and the latter struggled to cope with the rising asking rate pressure. The decision had upset Karthik too.

“When I got out, I went and sat in the dugout and Dinesh was quite upset that he didn’t bat at No. 6,” Rohit admitted. “But I told him ‘I want you to bat and finish off the game for us, because whatever skill you have, it will be required in the last three or four overs’. That is the only reason he was not batting at No. 6 in the 13th over when I got out. He was upset with that, but he’ll be quite happy now how he finished off the game.”

Nidahas Trophy 2018 final: Dinesh Karthik 1st Indian to slam last-ball six in T20Is in winning cause
Nidahas Trophy 2018 final: Dinesh Karthik 1st Indian to slam last-ball six in T20Is in winning cause

Heaping lavish praise on Karthik, Rohit further said: “I have to go back to the kinds of shots that he has in his books – it suits him to finish off games at the death where you have to use that one fielder that is inside the circle – either fine leg, or mid-off or short third man.

“He can always play those ramp shots which he played in the end to Rubel Hossain. He knows that. I thought Mustafizur [Rahman] would bowl probably the 18th and the 20th overs, and we wanted an experienced guy to handle him. We knew he would come out with his offcutters and Dinesh probably would have been a better choice at that point. He has done it for his state team and also for Mumbai Indians.”

Nidahas Trophy 2018, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka: Marks out of 10
Nidahas Trophy 2018, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka: Marks out of 10

Karthik came into bat at a seemingly impossible situation. India needed 34 off the last 2 overs and Karthik’s 8-ball 29 not out, including a six off the final ball of the match, sealed it for India.

‘That’s the guy we need in our team’

Karthik had warmed the benches in South Africa. With MS Dhoni, Ajinkya Rahane and Shreyas Iyer present, he did not get enough opportunities. However, in the final T20I in South Africa, his late blitz helped India get some crucial runs at the end.

“He was with us on the previous tour in South Africa and didn’t get much game time. To do what he did today will give him a lot of confidence going forward. Most important thing he has is belief in himself. Whatever situation comes, he’s ready — whether he bats up the order or down the order. That’s the kind of guy we need in our team,” Rohit added.

For now, Karthik has surely cemented his place in at least one side. He will now lead Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the IPL 2018 starting next month.