Happy-Birthday

Born September 11, 1976, Murali Kartik played eight Tests, 37 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) and a solitary T20 International for India as a left-arm spinner. Despite being an accomplished performer in Indian domestic cricket and the county circuit, Kartik did not have a long international career as his time coincided with Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. Nevertheless, he had quite a few memorable moments at the highest level. Nishad Pai Vaidya finds 10 little-known facts about the left-armer.

1. Murali Kartik tried his hand at medium pace at an early age. As a youngster, he was inspired by Sir Garry Sobers and wanted to emulate him in every sense. However, at the age of 15, he was only 5’2’’ and his coach advised him to take up slow- left-arm orthodox, and he never looked back. Kartik learnt a lot from former India left-arm spinners Bishan Singh Bedi and Maninder Singh, who passed their valuable advice to him.

2. Kartik played for Delhi under-16s, but failed to make it into the under-19 side. As luck would have it, he made it into the senior side for the Ranji Trophy. However, with Maninder already in the scheme of things, it was difficult for him to break into the side and he then moved to Railways, for whom he played throughout his career in Indian domestic cricket.

3. Though Kartik made a name for himself as a bowler, he was also a decent batsman. On his Ranji Trophy debut against Madhya Pradesh in 1996-97, he made 47 in the second innings while batting at No 3. He scored 43 in a Test against Bangladesh when he came in as a night-watchman. His highest score in First-Class cricket is 96 and he has scored 21 fifties. In his last First-Class match, which was the Ranji Trophy Quarter-Final against Bengal in 2013-14, he opened the batting in the second innings and scored 56.

4. In the Irani Trophy 2000, he recorded figures of nine for 70 in the second innings against Mumbai to bowl them out for 184. Kartik had taken the first nine wickets and had the chance to get ten, but the last scalp was taken by Sarandeep Singh. Those figures are a record for the Irani Trophy.

5. Kartik is the only Indian to play in the Indian Premier League (IPL), the Champions League T20 (CLT20), the T20 tournament  in England and the Stanford T20. He represented Middlesex at the Stanford T20 in 2008 and played for Somerset in the CLT20 2011. In IPL, he has played for Kolkata Knight Riders, Pune Warriors India, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab.

6. Kartik is also the only Indian to play for four English counties. He has played for Lancashire, Middlesex, Somerset and Surrey.

7. In 2007, Kartik was working as an expert with the broadcasters when he was called up for the Indian team mid-way through the ODI series against Australia. He made his comeback at Chandigarh and bowled an economical spell to ensure a victory for India.

8. In the seventh ODI of the 2007 series against Australia Kartik registered his best figures of six for 27. He wasn’t done there as he walked in to bat at 143 for eight, with India chasing 194 for victory. Kartik remained unbeaten on 21 as India won by two wickets. His figures of six for 27 remain the best by an Indian against Australia in an ODI. In fact, these remain the best figures by a left-arm spinner in ODIs.

9. During the IPL 2009, the Fake IPL Player blog had become a rage on the internet. A blogger, later revealed to be Anupam Mukherjee, wrote a fictional account of the Kolkata Knight Riders’ campaign in South Africa. Many felt it was a player within the camp who was doing it. Some suspected Kartik of being that blogger, in partnership with a well-known journalist. In an interview with CricketCountry, Kartik said that his wife was sure that he was the Fake IPL Player.

10. In 2005, he made his debut in county cricket for Lancashire. In his maiden County Championship game, he took a 10-wicket haul with five-fors in each innings. He was the first foreigner to do that for Lancashire on debut.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)