Dinesh Karthik watched Ravichandran Ashwin on top of his bowling mark and then looked around the field that was set for him. Ashwin's success with the white ball is largely driven by his abilities to plan ahead of the event and execute them under pressure. He bowled to his field and his plan but still got hit to all corners by a batter at the peak of his finishing game.
When Karthik plundered 21 off that over, he not only won RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) the game but also telegraphed a message to the national selectors that he is the best white-ball finisher in India at the moment.
Karthik's runs in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) are one of a kind. They are all lower order runs scored at a higher strike rate. They are also peculiar in ways that can only be described as spreading butter over a hot toast. In the sense that it looks obvious when and how he does it.
One might argue that the legend of DK was born on the night India won the Nidahas Trophy. Let me take you a little back. In 2007 at the Kennington Oval in England when India needed a makeshift opener, he scored a stoic 91 that imprinted his name in world cricket. Fifteen years on his technique, temperament and triumphs have stood in all forms of the game.
To understand the uniqueness of Karthik's game, we need to consider the demands of the position he bats at. The designated finisher in T20 cricket is expected to hit boundaries at will. At the age of 37, he seems to have cracked a code to hit a boundary of his first few balls irrespective of the bowler, opposition and the situation he is playing.
To have a gameplan this dynamic, he has worked extremely hard on being creative in his stroke making. Having now mastered the art of scooping the ball, Karthik can access all areas, from third man to fine leg as he pleases. There has been enough and more evidence that his power down the ground has been exceptional too. What remains is the acres of space square on both sides. To hit the ball there, Karthik's method is to get into power positions. He will shuffle outside the off stump and thump the ball on the leg side and will stay beside the line of the deliveries to hit the ball through the off side. Hence, irrespective of who the five boundary riders are, he is capable of finding the fence.
If there is one area the national team needs a cover, then it is the finishing slot. Rishabh Pant and Ravindra Jadeja will be floating around that role but both are left-handers. Karthik is that right-hander who can split them both. The only argument against him is his age. Cricketing wisdom suggests that batting is a skill best developed with age. Beyond thirty, most batters flourish in their game. Physically, the act becomes taxing with your body needing more time to recover. Mentally though, it is a dream place to be when you're wise enough having seen all the ups and downs of international cricket.
Karthik's work ethics in terms of fitness is second to none and mentally, he is one of the toughest characters in the playing circuit. Whatever the combination the team management wants to go with, if they need a seasoned finisher, there is only one name that fits the bill - Dinesh Karthik.
(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are the author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.)
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