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Posted at: May 23, 2019, 7:36 AM; last updated: May 23, 2019, 7:37 AM (IST)

In Dhoni’s shadow

Dinesh Karthik could get a chance to bat at No. 4, but much depends on Dhoni’s fitness

Deepankar Sharda

It’s no secret that most Indian fans want to see no player other than MS Dhoni behind the stumps in the World Cup. Dinesh Karthik must be well aware of this. So, if not behind the stumps, Karthik would be eager to justify his selection by performing with the bat to silence his critics, who had termed his inclusion in the India squad as a surprise, even a shock.

At age 34, Karthik could finally get the chance to play his first-ever World Cup match. Karthik has represented India in the Champions Trophy but never in the World Cup, though he did play in two World Twenty20 tournaments.

Karthik would want to leave a mark if he gets a chance. His selection over the fiery Rishabh Pant, despite a below-par IPL season, will be a tough challenge for him to overcome. Karthik is one of the few players who have risen through the ranks of age-group cricket before playing for the national team. He replaced Parthiv Patel in the national team, but himself had to make way for Dhoni. He did play a few good knocks as a pure batsman, but never did enough to displace Dhoni.

Decisive period

Karthik has some good memories in England — he debuted in ODIs in England in 2004, and though he failed with the bat, India won his first match. Then, in 2007 he made three half-centuries on the Test tour of England, playing as an opener, as India won the series 1-0.

In the last 10 IPL matches, he played only one notable innings, 97 not out against Rajasthan Royals. In his last ODI, he was out for 0 against New Zealand in January. But he does have good numbers at the No. 4 spot, where he might be asked to bat: He has 426 runs at No. 4 in 18 matches, at a healthy average of 38.72.

In the 2013 Champions Trophy, he batted at No. 4 on four occasions, but made only one notable score, 51 not out against West Indies.

Dhoni’s backup

Virat Kohli has said Karthik would serve as the backup keeper. Dhoni, though, is one tough guy and his never say die spirit keeps him on the field even when he’s troubled by niggles. Also, the presence of Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav makes it tough for Karthik. Will Karthik get a chance? It would be cruel if he were to be taken to the World Cup and not given a single game — he does deserve a chance to show his prowess at the showpiece event.

Trivia

  • His father, Krishna Kumar, was a cricketer in his young days but was forced to focus on academics instead of cricket. He made sure that Dinesh didn’t suffer that fate
  • India played their first T20 International in 2006, against South Africa. Karthik made a 28-ball 31 and became the first Indian to be named the Man of the Match in a T20I
  • Karthik has taken part in the reality dance show Ek Khiladi Ek Hasina, partnering TV actress Nigaar Khan
  • Karthik has represented five different IPL teams and his highest price tag was Rs 12.5cr, spent by Delhi Daredevils to buy him in 2014
India Squad
Dinesh Karthik
Backup Man

Factfile
Age: 33 years 356 days
Born in: Chennai
Major teams: India, Tamil Nadu, Delhi Daredevils, KXIP, KKR, MI, RCB

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